In an effort to enhance the search capabilities of its site, Pinterest recently acquired VisualGraph, a company that develops object recognition technology. This move suggests that Pinterest may be trying to become for images what YouTube has already become for videos – a user’s first destination when searching for a particular type of media. Google still reigns supreme as the one-stop-shop for general searches, but as our searches become more complex and media-specific, the need for media-specific search engines also increases. The recent purchase of VisualGraph (an image recognition application developed by an ex Googler who helped develop Google’s first image recognition app) makes it apparent that Pinterest wants to leverage its (approximately) 70 million users and associated pins to better serve the users who are searching Pinterest for topic-specific images.
Pinterest is undoubtedly also looking to optimize image discovery and pinning, thereby increasing user engagement, which would make it easier to integrate seamless ad serving. VisualGraph could help optimize the serving of relevant Pinterest ads without the need to collect endless image meta data. Google may be a tough opponent for Pinterest – however, while Google currently does a pretty good job with their image search, one thing their results lack is an association with a large image-based community. This is Pinterest’s defining feature, and it may give the social media site an edge in the image-search game.