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Time for Marketing

Sep 2019

#24 - Joelle Irvine - Image & Visual Browse Optimization Opportunities

September 9, 2019

Joelle is the Director of Marketing & Growth at Bookmark (her on Linkedin) and she spoke at the MozCon 2019 with a presentation on Image & Visual Browse optimization opportunities. The official title of her presentation was Get The Look: Improve the Shopper Experience with Visual Search Optimization. In a time where everyone talks about voice optimization, she thinks about the new channels that visual browse and purchase will bring.

You can check out the slides from her presentation here:

Here is the transcript of the podcast:

Joelle Irvine: This is something that's not widely used by many researchers, but the interest is really growing. There are some studies done, ViSenze actually did a study where they found that 62% of Millennials would really like to be able to search by image and 58% of them would like to be able to click to purchase directly from content.

Peter Mesarec: This is Time for Marketing. The marketing podcast that will tell you everything you've missed when you didn't attend the marketing conference. Hello and welcome to the Time for Marketing podcast, the podcast that brings you information from the conference's that you were not able to attend in a short time span because we know you are all busy enjoying the last days of summer.

This is the episode number 24. My name is still Peter and we will go directly with our guests joining us today from beautiful Canada up there and to the left very far away from me is sitting Joelle Irvine.

Joelle: Hi Petter. How are you?

Peter: I'm very well, how are you doing? Today is Tuesday. You're slowly starting your workweek.

Joelle: Yes.

Peter: Did you already start after the summer? For agencies stuff usually dies down a bit or declines back are they sending emails and trying to do everything for Black Friday and everything in the fall that they have planned.

Joelle: We actually don't really have any slow periods here at Bookmark. Not only do we do digital but we also do magazines so we gear up for the fall during the summer and then the fun continues throughout the fall until the holidays at the end of the year.

Peter: All right. The #agencylive will always work hard.

Joelle: Yes, exactly.


Peter: Joelle, you are the director of marketing and growth at the agency called Bookmark Content and Communications. Can you briefly tell us what do you do either as the agency and more importantly, what are the things that you do? What are the nice things that allow you that you are happy at your work every day?

Joelle: At Bookmark, we're a global content and communications agency and we have offices all around the world. We work mostly primarily with luxury and lifestyle brands and we create content for them to bring their brand and audiences together. What I do is actually create content for our content marketing company, it's very meta. I wear many hats, I do a little SEO, I do in marketing social media. I also work on some new business, I do really a little bit of everything, I love it.

Peter: Yes, you're the director of stuff there, you'll have to do everything. If you're doing stuff for high-end brands, I've invited you to the podcast because you spoke at the Moscone conference. How is SEO and high-end brands coming together?

Joelle: Well, I was looking for new and innovative things to bring to our clients. Not only do we focus on-page SEO we're also looking at technical SEO as well as new things we can bring to them. How can we integrate voice? How could we integrate visual search? How can we make sure that when their audience looks for them in search that they're getting visually pleasing results, not only text-based results.

Peter: Yes. This is why I was very interested in your presentation, in a time when everyone speaks about voice search you speak about image search or visual search. Your presentation was called Get To Look, Improve the Shopper Experience with Visual Search Optimization. We'll get to the presentation in a minute. How was Moscone?

Joelle: I really enjoyed it. It was actually my third year at Moscone, this is my first time on stage. What I really love about Moscone is the community. I love the people that attend. I love the presentations and the other presenters that spoke, they all cover really interesting things that are current, that are relevant, that are trending.

They also bring something I think a little bit different than other conferences be because it is a one-track conference and I really love that approach. I also really appreciate the way that it's very much human first even though it's a tech company. They really accommodate everybody. Even if you look at the speakers it's very much a 50/50 split between men and women which I really appreciate.

Peter: Yes. I've had two speakers for a Moscone on the podcast in the previous episodes just because the presentations that I saw were so good. All right, let's go directly to your presentation. Without further ado, I just give you your five minutes to sum up your presentation.

Joelle: Perfect. When I talk about visual search, I'm really talking about searching for images with other images not searching for images with text queries. This is something that's not widely used by many searchers but the interest is really growing. There are some studies done, ViSenze actually did a study where they found that 62% of Millennials would really like to be able to search by image and 58% of them would like to be able to click to purchase directly from content. That's very telling showing that young people are really interested in this type of technology and I find also people are in tune with looking for things with their eyes versus typing them out.

There's another stat that I'd like to share and it's that 85% of consumers place more importance on visuals when shopping online for clothing and furniture. I'd like to share why I chose Google lens and Pinterest lens as examples. I find that they're both leading the way in terms of technology and ways to use visual search to appeal to their customers and also drive revenue for brands.

Google lens is really focusing more on practical applications where Pinterest lens showing more success in discovery engagement and conversion for fashion and home decor brands. I find those two things are really interesting to look at because not doing the same things, they're investing in different ways to use image recognition technology to appeal to their audience.

If we look back at the past few months, Pinterest lens has actually started integrating some cool new features. They integrated hybrid search which is a way of integrating a visual search with a text-based query. Right now it's not something that you can use where you can actually type in a query but you can actually take an existing pin and text provided by Pinterest to come together and provide search results based on those two things. They're working on something called to Complete the Look which I think is going to be really amazing and I feel like other companies and tech companies and social media companies will follow suit once this is released.

What it does, is it allows you to actually type in a text query and combine it with an image to find a handbag to go with an outfit or curtains to go with your living room. What's interesting about Pinterest lens is that right now there's about 600 million visual searches that are happening every month and 300 million people around the world are using it. That's small potatoes compared to let's say Google or Amazon's audience but there is a large group of people who are actually using visual search. If that's something the brands are interested in, they should leverage that. Mostly because proportionately Pinterest drives more referral traffic to e-commerce sites than other social platforms.

Something else that I'd like to share is that Google lens, it can recognize over one billion items. That's quite something. At the recent Google I/O conference last May, they also introduced two new filters further Google lens. One is dining where you can actually scan menu items and it'll pick up some images and recommendations from their Maps app to get people to choose items that other people have liked. Also, the translate feature where you can scan a printed document or a screen with text in another language and it'll translate it for you in a matter of seconds. That in itself is very cool when you're traveling, it just makes things way more accessible. They also announced the addition of augmented reality into a Google search which could have huge possibilities for shopping if that will also get integrated into the lens features. All of this leads to opportunities for retail brands, e-commerce brands. Some of these opportunities include increased visibility for lesser-known brands. Right now, if you think about shopping online a lot of the time it's hard for some smaller brands to get found in search results but through Pinterest lens what pinners end up doing is they end up being exposed to this smaller brands and they get to see things based on what they're looking for in terms of style rather than doing branded searches .

97% of Pinterest searches are currently unbranded and 70% of their audience is open to finding about brands they've never heard of before. That's pretty cool. Also, something that's interesting that people should be looking at is leveraging existing platforms and partnerships. What I would say is either optimize where your audience is already like on Google, Pinterest, Instagram or Amazon or partner with an image recognition tech provider to integrate it into your own platform.

If you're just starting out I would say go where your audience is already but if you're ready to take that next leap there are different providers such as the ViSenze, slice  that can help with that integration. Also, capitalize on impulse buying this is something that-- I think it's a funny thing to say but there are some studies that 72% of pinners say that the platform inspires them to shop when they aren't actually looking for anything. That's pretty huge and I think people or brands should take advantage of that.

The other thing that I'd like to share ist hat visual search can also be used in real life. If you can integrate it into your in-store experience it could also create other opportunities to increase in-store visits. For example, Alibaba and Amazon both brought this type of tech into their change rooms to help people shop more easily. Alibaba brought in these fashion AI mirrors into the guest change rooms to suggest other accessories and different color options for what they tried on to help them find what they're looking for and Amazon created this cool tech-enabled mirror that projects clothing onto customers so that they can see what they look like without actually trying it on I mean that's pretty cool stuff.

Last but not least, increasing revenue Gartner predicts that at 2021 e-commerce brands who optimized for voice and visual search will increase profits by up to 30%. That's huge. Obviously this is a prediction but I think it's worth thinking about how you can integrate this type of technology into your strategy and into your content and into your search practices because it's coming, younger people are using it, younger people are thinking about it. If you miss the boat now you'd just be catching up later all this to say that visual search is a cool new feature but you also have to think about how to optimize for it because it's not yet perfect. It is a technology it is constantly evolving. In my conference, I shared some tactics and techniques to optimize for visual search and some of those things included everything that you do currently for image search can also be applied for visual search. Make sure to think about your image size and keywords and all tags and all that good stuff.

You also want to think on the technical side, making sure to submit image site maps and sync basic product data with the Google Merchant Center. Enabling rich pins for Pinterest, implementing structured data especially for product and offer and image gallery. Also, think about how you search for what you want to-- Like do your research for what you want to focus on. Don't only think about keywords, also think about finding trends there's Google trends, there's a monthly Pinterest trend report, there's all kinds of cool stuff that you can use to make your content super cool.

My last point is to think about what's next. Visual sentiment analysis to understand the emotion of users when they're on your social media channels for example. How you can integrate visual search into your strategy even if it's not for fashion or home decor brands. Think about real estate think about food and beverage, think about hotels, for example. Also think about all the new integrations that you could do with a visual search like the augmented reality example I gave earlier, machine learning. There's so much that's coming we don't even know what the possibilities will be. This is basically, think about what's coming and see how it fits with your brand and if it does then test it. Try it out. Try and integrate a few things and see if it helps you out.

Peter: I must say very extensive and not sure if extensive is the right word but all-encompassing would probably be the right word. You went from the theory to far-fetched examples and went back to the examples of what people should be doing right now. What I see is, with e-commerce stores they still have, especially e-commerce is that they have a big number of products. They still have problems with generating quality and interesting images for products. How can we get them to not only show two boring pictures but get them to show pictures with people or maybe even create a video, how do you push e-commerces to do that?

Joelle: I would say that it's always best to use authentic type images but in terms of product images, you really want to show your product as it is, your product on a person you want to show the different angles. You also want to show dimensions, if something is a certain size you want to show it compared to something or like in a real-life type situation.

Peter: Have a banana for scale.

Joelle: Yes, to scale exactly. You also want to provide context. I really love the example of when you're looking at a handbag for example, when I'm actually shopping online for a handbag I like to see how many pockets are inside. I like to see what it looks like underneath. There's things that you may not think about what your audience is looking for but you can actually look in the data for images that you do currently have, what they're actually looking for and what helps them when they're making those decisions to optimize them properly.

Peter: What we see very often is companies having or creating their own photo studios within their own company so that they are able to be fast and create images when they need them. Do you think this is a good strategy or are you more of a fan of going for a big photoshoot that will deliver the best images ever?

Joelle: I think that authenticity is super important. I think that you don't have to spend a lot of money to take good photos, it really depends on your budget and who you're trying to appeal to make that decision.

Peter: All right. I was really wanting to ask you what should be the next steps for people that would like to go into the image or visual optimization but as you mentioned before just have good images and do good image SEO and that should be the first step, I'm I right?

Joelle: Yes, definitely that's right and you also want to optimize on the back-end in terms of connecting it with the Merchant Center and if for Pinterest it'd be Pinterest catalogs so that the data is connected with those images and they're indexed properly.

Peter: All right excellent. We're at the 21-minute mark and I think we are good with the presentation. Joelle thank you very much for summing up your presentation from Moscone. Where can people find you who? Who would like to talk to you what are your next things you have something with the whiteboard Friday planned, is that right?

Joelle: Yes. I'll be doing a whiteboard Friday. It's coming up soon and it's on the same topic. Check it out, I'll give some tips there on visual search as well.

Peter: All right and of course I will add your presentation, the slides into the show notes so there's people and of course links to your LinkedIn and your company and everything else so that people can see and follow your presentation when they listen to the podcast.

Joelle: Perfect, thank you.

Peter: I think that's it. Thank you very much for being the guest in the podcast. Thank you for-- it's probably very early in the morning for you.

Joelle: It's actually close to lunchtime [laughs].

Peter: Wow, all right. I'm not that good with different time zones. Okay, that's it. Thank you very much for being on the podcast. I'll see you around.

Joelle: Thanks, Peter.