Pinterest debuts Guided Search, Custom Categories, improved Related Pins

At an event Thursday evening in San Francisco, Pinterest CEO Ben Silbermann announced changes to improve discovery of content on the platform. Most importantly, a mobile-first guided search system now allows users to swipe through new categories and narrow down search terms visually.
“The one truism about Pinterest is the more people join, the more people discover, they have diverse interests and they should be able to enjoy them,” Silbermann said.
The search system was designed for mobile — a growing portion of Pinterest’s business that the company also sees as the gateway to international penetration. Guided search allows users to search for a particular item, like “clocks,” and then narrow down the results with different kinds of terms that describe aspects of that item. For example, a user can swipe through to find “blue” to populate a set of blue clocks, or “whimsical” to find clocks in that particular style. The results are items already available on Pinterest today, using keywords tagged by Pinterest users. Guided Search continues to narrow down terms to help users find specific kinds of content.
“Guided search will help you discover things when you didn’t know how to ask the question in the first place,” Silbermann said.
In addition to guided search, Silberman unveiled custom categories, which allows users to create a unique filter for images. Pinterest began with 32 separate topics, but the custom option allows users to create a narrow stream for content.
“If you have a niche interest, you should get a beautiful feed of the best that Pinterest has to offer,” Silbermann said. Rollout for Custom Categories will be slow, but it will eventually be available for both desktop and mobile.
Finally, the company announced changes to its Related Pins feature. Silbermann said that the algorithm was adjusted to better include related pieces of content that aren’t necessarily similar images or products.
“You don’t just find exactly the same things from the same brand. You find things that are really relevant, including activities and toys,” Silbermann said.
Pinterest has focused deeply on both mobile and search this year, including the acquisition of the two-person VisualGraph team in January to help boost search capabilities. It’s also prioritized on adding richer data to pins, including the introduction of place pins in the fall of last year.