Pinterest upgrades visual search tech with QR capabilities

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Dive Brief:

  • Pinterest announced several upgrades to the Lens visual search camera technology for its mobile app in a company blog post Tuesday. Lens, rolled out earlier this year in beta, can now scan QR codes to link directly back to brands’ websites and Pinterest boards and is also better at recognizing multiple objects at once.
  • An app shortcut that opens directly to Lens is also expanding to Apple smartphones after successful tests on Android devices, the company said.
  • In related news, Pinterest promoted its Head of Discovery Engineering Vanja Josifovski to the role of chief technology officer, TechCrunch reported.

Dive Insight:

QR codes are back in a big way, and Pinterest is looking to capitalize on their resurgence as part of building out its “visual discovery business.” Snapchat has been emphasizing its own Snapcodes as a means to diversify ad products post-IPO; the startup 1App is helping marketers like Starbucks drive app trials via QR codes and even Spotify, a music streaming service, recently introduced its own QR offering.

Why QR is making a comeback after fizzing out years ago isn’t entirely clear. For newer platforms looking to monetize, QR codes might track and measure ROI in a more concrete way than other digital metrics, which could attract more brands. 

Pinterest is gearing up a rebranding campaign to get people to think of it as something other than a social network, Bloomberg reported, with its focus instead being on product discovery, saving and presumably sharing. The platform has 175 million users, per TechCrunch, but has not, to date, been a major part of the mobile marketing conversation.

The upgrades to its mobile app and the premium being put on Lens, in particular, could change that, helping retail brands lessen friction on the consumer path to purchase by tying product information and deep links into its camera technology. App install campaigns are another area where Pinterest is seeing a surprising amount of success for a platform not typically thought of as mobile-first. 

By following users from product discovery, to saving and even purchase, Pinterest might have more control over the overall customer experience than other social platforms. Josifovski’s promotion from head of discovery engineering to CTO suggests development and innovation in this area are likely to continue. 

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