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Recently, Google launched Keen, a platform similar to Pinterest, on which users can create and share boards about their interests and hobbies. The app is the latest from Google’s Area 120 team, an internal incubator that creates experimental apps and services. Keen is likely meant to step into the Pinterest space, as Pinterest gains some traction in search.
What Is Keen?
Keen, available on the web or Android, allows users to create boards about their interests and hobbies. As users save more items, Google will suggest additional related links and information to add to “keens.” Keen is the latest project from Google that uses the platform’s highly refined human-centered machine learning systems.
“For every keen you create, we use Google Search and the latest in machine learning to remain on the lookout for helpful content related to your interests. The more you save to a keen and organize it, the better the recommendations become. Even if you’re not an expert on a topic, you can start curating a keen and save a few interesting ‘gems’ or links that you find helpful. These bits of content act like seeds and help Keen discover more and more related content over time,” explained CJ Adams, Co-Founder of Keen and a product manager at Google, in a blog post explaining the Keen origin story.
Adams also explains in the blog that Google’s Keen is meant to create context around the interests and joys of life, whether users choose to share their keens or not.
Why Did Google Release Keen?
As Pinterest has become more refined and increasingly competitive — transitioning from a place where people just browse and pin images they like to a “visual discovery engine” focused on ecommerce — Google has noticed Pinterest’s growth in search and responded with different products that nip at Pinterest’s heels.
According to Social Media Today, “While Pinterest is only taking up a fraction of that [search] market (Pinterest currently stands at 367 million MAU [monthly active users], while Google has 2 billion MAU for G Suite alone), it is growing, and it is, indeed, taking searches away from Google.”
Other examples of Google products and adaptations that mirror similar features on Pinterest include a revamped search image layout and enhanced Google Shopping, Google Lens for more refined ecommerce experiences and deeper dives on retail trends for comparison shopping. As Social Media Today points out, Google could choose to more aggressively amplify these new products and functions, including Keen, at any point that they feel more concerned about Pinterest. However, for now, Google seems to be staying neutral and adapting as necessary, while promoting a fun way for users to stay connected through shared interests with Keen.
How Can Keen Benefit Digital Marketers?
If Google is able to get Keen off the ground as an alternative to Pinterest, and create a community of users, Google may opt to capture the social data, preferences and interests of Keen users. This information could be useful to digital marketers in the future who are looking for increased personalization of niche audiences and better targeting across Google’s network. At this time, Google hasn’t released any specifics about what advertising opportunities Keen will offer moving forward.
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