ATYPICAL

Snap That and Search It: Visual Search is Coming for CRE

By Sarah Malcolm
Internet searches started as typing questions on a search engine like Yahoo. The field transformed with Siri and Alexa into voice queries. How do you level up from there? Hello, visual search. The real estate industry is uniquely positioned to leverage visual search capabilities. To see benefits, you’ve got to start optimizing now.

Internet searches started as typing questions on a search engine like Yahoo. The field transformed with Siri and Alexa into voice queries. How do you level up from there? Hello, visual search. The real estate industry is uniquely positioned to leverage visual search capabilities. To see benefits, you’ve got to start optimizing now.

What is a visual search?

Unlike posing questions for algorithms to suggest answers, a visual search happens when a user uploads an image. Using artificial intelligence (AI), computers find features in the images and match with similar or relevant images. So if someone uploads a photo of a room with a chandelier, the results might show similar photos of chandeliers.

How many times have you said, “I want something like this,” and whipped out a photo? I’ve done it at the hair salon, with clothes shopping, and decorating the house. People are visual. The drawback to typed queries is you’ve got to have the right words to bring up what you want. Something like, “Modern flexible office furniture,” brings up thousands of varied options, half of which probably aren’t anything like what you pictured. A visual search narrows that search query closer to what you had in your head.

How does visual search work?

Probably the most popular iteration of visual search operating at the moment is Lens by Pinterest. Lens users upload photos of items and the results tell them where to buy it online, find related products, or show Pinterest Boards with similar items. Lens is an app available on Android and iPhone.

Another version is Google Lens. Its AI analyzes an image’s visual data and delivers relevant details. Users take pictures of words and have them translated, find similar outfits, or gain information about landmarks. Snap a photo of the Empire State building and it’ll serve you facts about its history. 

Plenty of other apps are now utilizing visual search. CamFind, Bing Visual Search, Snapchat, eBay, iNaturalist, and Amazon all have visual search.

What does visual search mean for CRE marketing?

Let’s talk about the “M” word again: “millennials.” Social Media Today found 62 percent of millennials are more interested in visual search capabilities than any other new technology. And if they’re interested in it, you bet marketers better be paying attention.

Visuals are a fast way to capture someone’s attention and communicate what you have to offer. To be ready for visual search, we have to:

Pioneers in real estate visual search

We also need to pay attention to the movers and shakers in the real estate technology industry. There are companies using visual search, albeit in more of a residential capacity. But if the innovation we’re seeing is any indication, it’s only a matter of time before it takes off in CRE. For the moment, see:

You bet visual search is a trend to stay on top of for the CRE space. Imagine the marketing possibilities: clients searching for spaces based on the features they like. One snapshot to gain information about spaces available for development, lease, or sale. We really think these AI-backed technologies are game-changers, which is why AR services are part of what we do at ATYPICAL.

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