According to Webopedia and other sources, visual search is defined as a “perceptual task requiring attention that typically involves an active scan of the visual environment for a specific object or feature (the target) among other objects or features (the distractors).” Therefore, a visual search engine searches for information on the web through the use of images and provides visual search results. Interestingly enough, everything including search queries is going visual in digital media.

Visual Search Statistics

According to a number of internet marketing studies conducted this past year (2017), roughly 75% of all internet users in the US made a purchase after a visual content search. In addition to this:

• 3 billion images are shared by internet users on a daily basis

• 74% of consumers claim that keyword searches that are content or text-based are inefficient when it comes to finding the right product when shopping online

• Based on current trends, statistics indicate that the consumer image recognition market will have witnessed a 219% growth from just under $10 billion in 2014 to nearly $26 billion in 2019

• Images are processed by the consumer 60,000 times quicker that what they do with content or text

So what does this mean? It means that 2 prominent search engines and the primary mobile and web app that use images to discover information online have developed on their own visual search technologies, i.e. Bing, Google, and Pinterest.

The 3 Forms of Visual Search

Interestingly enough, there are 3 different forms of visual search being used today that all internet marketers should be aware of:

Conjunction Search – a.k.a. “inefficient” or “serial” search, conjunction search is a process that focuses solely on discovering a previously-requested search target with the target itself. For example, have someone find a single red “X” amongst a field of black “X’s” and “O’s”.

Feature Search – a.k.a. “disjunctive” or “efficient” search, feature search focuses solely on discovering a previously-requested search target based on certain unique features such as color, orientation, shape, or size. For example, have someone find the white square that is surrounded entirely by black squares.

Real World Visual Search – in everyday life, individuals search for familiar targets in their own visual fields. A system of top-down processing enables people to find familiar targets with greater complexities more efficiently. These could also be represented in a conjunction or visual search as well.

Remember, today’s consumers are more educated and have become increasingly more interested in graphic results, interacting with images or photos, and image or photo-based results. Hence, the growing importance of visual search which seems to be gaining momentum with each passing day.