A Visual Shopping Guide That Finds Those Red-Carpet Faves

Media Morph: Like.com

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Every week Ad Age Digital's Media Morph looks at how emerging technology is changing the way consumers get their information and media companies and advertisers present their messages. This week: Like.com.
Like.com searches visually for the product you're dying to find.
Like.com searches visually for the product you're dying to find.

What it is: A new way to shop online, Like.com searches visually for the product you're dying to find. So if you're looking for the shoes you saw Cate Blanchett wearing at the Golden Globes, you don't have to describe the product using words ("black heels, exposed toe, ankle strap"). Instead, Like.com will scan its database to find the shoe -- or one that looks like it -- for you to buy.

The genesis: "Aesthetic items need visual search," said Munjal Shah, CEO and co-founder of Riya, the company behind Like. Initially, Mr. Shah planned to use Riya's image-matching technology to help people search and tag digital photos more efficiently. That plan got a good reaction around the blogosphere, but people didn't use it often enough to make it a viable business. "People just don't search their own photos that often," Mr. Shah said. So the company decided to apply its technology to searching the web, and the online-shopping business was born.

The business model: Sometimes Like gets a percentage of sales; sometimes it's a cost-per-click model.

What's in it for marketers: The biggest opportunity, Mr. Shah said, is making sure Like has a feed of a retailer or manufacturer's products. And the higher the resolution of the photos, the better it's able to search for them. He said he's planning to roll out additional ad opportunities outside standard ad sizes, such as banners.

What's next: Like searches only a few categories -- jewelry, watches, men's shirts, sunglasses and shoes. It plans to roll out several more, including women's tops, skirts, china patterns and art. Users will be able to search based on their own photos and capture any photo on the web for a Like.com search. Eventually, think cross-matching: If you like a certain pair of shoes, it'll find a handbag to match. How's that for a virtual personal shopper?
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