Pinterest's Lens Has Clear Revenue Potential

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Turning cameras into search engines can turn on a new revenue stream for Pinterest


Pin it — “Innovation comes from the producer - not from the customer.”

And Pinterest plans on delivering it to the customer with the launch of its new visual search tool,Lens, an innovation so revolutionary it could alter advertising on the social media network.

The Lens function (currently in beta), allows the camera in the Pinterest app to be used to discover ideas "inspired by objects you see out in the real world."

"Just point Lens at a pair of shoes, then tap to see related styles or even ideas for what else to wear them with. Or try it on a table to find similar designs, and even other furniture from the same era," said the company announcement.

Lens has the potential to turn serendipity into revenue, if the social network opts to charge brands a fee for promoting recommended images.

The announcement also featured the launch of two other products: Shop the Look and Instant Ideas.

Shop the Look allows Pinners to tap a blue icon and see similar products that they can purchase via Buyable Pins on Pinterest. Brands like CB2, Macy's, Target, Neiman Marcus and Wayfair are already on board, the company said.

Instant Ideas, on the other hand, showcases images on the user's home page that are relevant to their likes, the company said.

All of these innovative functions will provide Pinterest with an expanded audience for brands and marketers to select as advertising space; a fact that can not be overlooked as Pinterest attempts to increase revenue prior to its inevitable IPO.

Earlier this month, the company doubled down on its search offerings — it sees an estimated 2 billion searches each month -- that allow marketers to bid on keywords in similar fashion to Google.

By offering a visual search function, Pinterest is able to slightly separate itself from traditional search platforms like Google.

The Pinterest Lens will be available in the coming weeks, while Instant Ideas and Shop the Look were released the day of the announcement.

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