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What is Google Lens?
Initially a feature exclusive to the Google Pixel smartphone, Google Lens was a terrifically interesting prospect when it was announced last year and it’s just in the process of being released to selected other devices. Naturally anything Google does is of interest to digital marketers, so naturally, we were keen to try it out. If you’ve ever used ‘Google Goggles’ or performed reverse image searches, you’ll already be fairly familiar with the premise of Google Lens.
Essentially, Google Goggles and Reverse Image Search show an image to Google, and Google returns results based on that. What’s so clever about Google Lens is that it not only ‘sees’ the image, but uses AI and machine learning to attempt to understand what it’s seeing rather than just looking for visually similar images.
It’s probably worth mentioning that Samsung Smartphone owners already have similar functionality via the awkwardly named ‘Bixby Vision’, but If you’re anything like us, opening up ‘Bixby’ only by accident before rapidly closing it again, you might well have missed it.
What can I use Google Lens For?
Just like any other search, the results you get can be a bit of a mixed bag, but what Google Lens can do is pretty impressive.
For example, I took a picture of some typed text and it was not only identified as being writing, but I was able to select and copy sections from the picture and past it as text. Lens was also able to identify handwriting and made a valiant effort to transcribe my scrawl into text. Novelty aside, being able to, for example take a picture of a business card and being able copy and paste the text from the picture straight to my phonebook rather than reading and typing manually is one of many useful time savers, not to mention avoiding the issue of the occasional typo! I tried this out on one of our own business cards and Lens identified not only the text, but that it was looking at a business card and helpfully offered to add all the information to my address book – clever!
We have some stylised posters here at Falkon Towers, so I tested Lens on a pop art Iron Man picture which was successfully identified as being Iron Man and offered me information about the character and the poster. My Thundercats desk mug was correctly identified as being both a mug and Thundercats related (information offered on both) and our Falkon Digital plaque (just text, no logo) brought up results based on our Google Business listing.
Advertised capabilities include being able to identify outfits you see out and about and tell you what they are (and of course where they can be bought). Take a picture of a store front and instantly get information about the business.
Tired of fumbling under a desk for your wifi password? Take a picture using Lens and the clever app may well, as it did with the business card, understand not only that it’s looking at text, or that it relates to connecting to wifi, but offer you the option to connect without messing about with your settings or typing anything.
For the future, some form of augmented reality is mooted, where you’ll be able to hold your phone up to the world around you and get information relayed in real-time about things Lens identifies. Watch this space!
Can I get Google Lens for my Smartphone?
You won’t find Google Lens in an app store by itself, but if you have, or are able to get ‘Google Assistant’ on your device, open it up and look for a small grey logo on the bottom right of the screen which looks a bit like the Instagram icon. If you see it, that’s Google Lens.
At the time of typing, Lens is being made available within the regular Android camera app, so you might well spot a new icon in there soon, but for the time being, use via Google Assistant isn’t too onerous.
What Marketing Opportunities Does Google Lens Represent?
When people search for things they’re interested in, search engines attempt to give them the best answer to their query first. If your website, product or service is identified as being the best answer to a users question, then it’s likely they’ll look at your answer and potentially buy from you. This being the basic premise of why SEO is so important to businesses who trade online.
Voice search works the same way, except users are no longer presented with a list of 10 results per page to choose from, with many pages after that, the voice assistant presents only one answer, essentially, deciding for the user. If your business isn’t picked as the best answer, you won’t get a look in.
Google Lens, Bixby Vision, Pinterest Lens and others which will inevitably follow, all make their choices on what information to present to the user in accordance with an algorithm. Understanding how they make their selections will enable business owners to optimise their sites to take advantage of the new opportunities for discovery such AI assistants present.
In the meantime, make sure your site’s image ‘Alt Tags’ are up to scratch and more than ever, make sure your branding and logo are consistent, as it’s not only people who can understand them now.
Keep an eye out for more news about adapting your marketing strategy for this new wave of intelligent contextual search and for advice about optimising all aspects of your digital presence, get in touch with Falkon and let us help you take your online marketing to the next level.