Pinterest head of market development Vikram Bhaskaran

Pinterest’s investment into visual search is a good clue on where the company’s executive team thinks the Internet is headed.

“We believe that the camera is basically the next keyboard,” said Vikram Bhaskaran, head of market development at Pinterest, during last week’s WWD Digital Forum Los Angeles. “We’re making big bets in visual search.”

Those moves are largely powered by the thought that physical retail has always been good at not only serving as a place to discover brands or product, but where the actual act of transacting occurs. On the web, Bhaskaran said, those two actions — discovery and purchase — have usually been separate, disjointed experiences. Pinterest wants to reunify the two via its platform.

The company is, after all, sitting on a gold mine when it comes to a bank of visuals reflecting the preferences of its users. That information could prove helpful to retailers and other brands looking to more effectively reach consumers.

“We think that the next evolution of the web is really about this notion that the self is greater than the selfie,” Bhaskaran said.

Tied to that thought, and the relevance for companies in that evolution, is that delivery of services must make sense for the individual as opposed to what’s trending or what’s taken hold among a group of friends, Bhaskaran added.

The executive called it hyperpersonalization and Pinterest, to that end, released a bevy of features last week aimed at aiding consumers in not only finding inspiration, but also taking action and making actual purchases.

Among those new tools is Shop the Look, which lets users click on small dots in an image that they may be browsing to purchase the bag or the jacket in the picture. The feature is powered by ShopStyle. There’s also Lens the Look, which allows users to take pictures of a piece of clothing from their closet. From there, Pinterest will cull up images of other pieces that would pair well with that object. Pincodes, which were recently launched, use QR codes that, once scanned, queue up special content from retailers or other brands.

“What’s interesting today is we’re sort of in the dark days of personalization,” Bhaskaran said, referencing the vast amount of space there is to innovate.

He pointed to the two companies often cited the most in such conversations — Spotify and Netflix — when it comes to good examples of companies offering a hyperpersonalized experience that constantly changes as a user’s tastes change.

Pinterest’s ambitious plan, Bhaskaran said, is to build a horizontal personalization service that would allow for the micro-targeting of individuals based on very granular interests, noting, “What we’re sitting on is probably the largest database of taste on the Web that we’ve ever seen.”

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