How the rise of visual search should make online shopping easier

By our African Marketing Confederation News Team. | 2024

Combining keyword search with visual search technology will help consumers find and buy products online. Amazon and TikTok among the leaders.

A move towards ‘visual search’ will be one of the hot marketing trends of 2024, according to predictions published by media intelligence firm, Meltwater. The consultancy says this goes hand-in-hand with the growing popularity of shopping on social media platforms such as TikTok and Instagram.


While word-based search has long dominated the online actions of consumers, new technology allows users to search for information on the internet using imagery instead of, or in combination with, keywords.


Consequently, brands are starting to leverage visual search to enhance their digital marketing strategies.


“With infinite online shopping choices, the entirety of the digital and physical worlds has become our shopping mall. In turn, consumers have higher expectations than ever to be able to purchase the exact items they want and see in any context,” Meltwater says in its ‘Marketing Trends to Watch in 2024’, published at the end of December.


“Recent platform advancements in visual search are meeting those expectations and changing how the average consumer shops online.”


The company’s crystal-ball gazers point out that social media platform Pinterest, a visual discovery engine for finding home and styling ideas, is already advanced in its visual search capability.

TikTok is among those experimenting with visual search.

Photo Credit: Cottonbro Studio. Pexels.

TikTok and others are experimenting


TikTok Shop, which allows creators to promote and sell products to their community, has begun testing visual search as a way to grow its online shopping. Microsoft has launched visual search in Bing Chat, an AI-powered assistant that helps users browse the web.  


Other big-name companies dabbling with visual search include Amazon and Google. 

“Looking ahead, a wider range of marketers will have to adjust their strategies and outputs,” Meltwater says. “For many, the rise in visual search will require greater familiarity with visual SEO. They will also have to focus on making sure the visual customer experience is a pleasant one. 


“As visual search becomes more commonplace, visually distinct brands will have a growing advantage. Those with a unique look will be more likely to be correctly identified by search engines and less likely to send traffic to lookalike competitors.” 


You can read more about how TikTok is testing visual search to boost its online shopping capability here. 


You can find out more about how Amazon’s inclusion of visual search can enhance a brand’s digital marketing efforts here. 

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    Dr Kin Kariisa

    Group CEO - Next Media

    Dr. Kin Kariisa is an extraordinary force at the helm of Next Media Services, a conglomerate encompassing NBS TV, Nile Post, Sanyuka TV, Next Radio, Salam TV, Next Communication, Next Productions, and an array of other influential enterprises. His dynamic role as Chief Executive Officer exemplifies his unwavering commitment to shaping media, business, and community landscapes.
    With an esteemed academic journey, Dr. Kariisa’s accolades include an Honorary PhD in exemplary community service from the United Graduate College inTexas, an MBA from United States International University in Nairobi, Kenya, a Master’s degree in Computer Engineering from Huazong University in China, and a Bachelor’s degree in Statistics from Makerere University.
    Dr. Kariisa pursued PhD research in Computer Security and Identity Management at Security of Systems Group, Radboud University in Nijmegen, Netherlands. As a dynamic educator, he has shared his expertise as a lecturer of e-Government and Information Security at both Makerere University and Radboud University.

    Dr Kin did his PhD research in Computer Security and Identity Management at Security of Systems Group, Radbond University in Nigmegen, Netherlands. He previously served as a lecturer of e-Government and Information Security at Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda and Radbond University in Netherlands.

    Dr Kin did his postgraduate courses in Strategic Business Management, Strategic Leadership Communication and Strategies for Leading Successful Change Initiatives at Harvard University, Boston USA.

    • Other current and previous roles played by Dr Kin Kariisa:
    • Lecturer of e-Government and Information Security to graduate students at Makerere University, Kampala and Radbond University in the Netherlands
    • Director of Eco Bank Uganda Limited, one of the largest banks in Africa
    • Chairman of the National Association of Broadcasters, an umbrella industry association for all Television, Radio and online broadcasters in Uganda.
    • Chairman of Board of Directors of Nile Hotel International, that owns the leading hotel in Uganda, Kampala Serena Hotel.
    • Chairman of Board of Directors of Soliton Telmec Uganda, the leading telecom company in Optic fibre business managing over 80% of optic fibre in Uganda.