Google Acquires Visual Shopping Engine Like.com
By Tom Ryan
Google has acquired Like.com, a visual search engine for online
shopping. The deal is believed to be aimed at boosting Google’s shopping search
capabilities and services like its Product search engine.
the deal on its home page on Friday and a Google spokesperson confirmed it.
computer vision and machine learning technology, Like.com provides a visual
search engine focused on shoes, clothes, jewelry and décor. According
to a company description on the website, “We’ve developed technology that
lets us understand visually what terms like ‘red high-heeled pumps’ and ‘floral
patterned sleeveless dress’ mean and created algorithms to understand whether
those pumps complement or clash with that dress.”
David Murphy described Like.com as “a bit like online
shopping with a twist — instead of pushing through products and pages in
a manner similar to flipping through a print catalog, Like.com focuses on identifying
characteristics to drive user interest. Or, in other words, its ‘Visual
Shopping’ technology drills down to the core of what makes a product interesting
to a potential purchaser. Like a particular color? Like.com will serve up all
items, within a particular category, that best match the shade you’re looking
for. The same goes for patterns, shapes, and details.”
Mr. Murphy said
Google has dabbled in such technology. Last year, it rolled out its “Similar
Images” functionality for its normal Image search
but that technology has yet to be extended to its Product search.
makes money on affiliate links which are estimated to be as high as 10 percent.
It also owns Covet.com, an online personal shopper for fashion products, and
virtual fashion studio Couturious.com.
The deal, which had been rumored, comes
amid speculation that Google is further looking to maximize the potential of
its product search business, according to Fortune.
In a note in July, Merrill Lynch analyst Justin Post saw Google’s pending acquisition
of ITA flight tracking software as one of the first steps toward that goal.
“These changes are transforming Google into a more competitive, closer-to-the-transaction
e-commerce platform, with the potential benefit of: 1) bettering traffic share
gains and 2) improving conversion rates (up to 30 percent in some formats),
leading to higher CPCs (cost per clicks),” wrote Mr. Post.
intermediaries out of referral fees could net Google as much as $1-2 billion
annually over the next three years, estimated Mr. Post. Google could start
ranking results by the commission it receives to further increase revenue from
“Product Search has evolved to become the number one comparison shipping
site,” wrote Mr. Post “While Product Search has the potential to
provide incremental monetization of $200 to $300 million per year, it is more
likely that Google will continue to use Product Search data feeds to help funnel
merchant data to higher value ad formats.”
Discussion Questions: What do you think Google’s purchase of Like.com?
Do you think Google will be able to reshape online comparison shopping and
the product search market?