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Giphy uses Google AI to better match user image searches

You have that perfect meme in mind as a witty retort to a friend on social media. However, searching Giphy yields everything but that gem you so desperately want. It is a common problem when you are searching the massive GIF image database of the popular site. But with help from Google Cloud Vision machine learning and a software engineering intern named Bethany Davis, Giphy now has a much more intelligent search system.

The intricate process that Davis put together prioritizes captions instead of the source description. Davis explained how Cloud Vision helped:

Cloud Vision had performed optical character recognition (OCR) on our GIF corpus to detect text or captions within the image. The OCR results we got back from Google Cloud Vision were so good that my team felt confident about incorporating the data directly into our search engine. I was tasked with parsing the data and indexing each GIF, then updating our search query to leverage the new, bolstered metadata.

After some painstaking work compiling the data, Davis then had to then incorporate it into the search query. After working out a few variables, such as whether to use a "match phrase query" and how much to trust Google Cloud Vision's data over a description provided from a source, she then began internal testing using a variety of tools the company has at its disposal, such as comparing the results from her old searches to her new queries. After getting positive results, the new search was put out to users.

The next step was to compare click through after a search to see if users were actually getting better results.

I launched the updated query as an A/B experiment, and the results look promising: across all search traffic for the duration of the experiment, the lift in click-through rate was 0.5%. However, my change affects a very specific type of search, especially longer phrases, so the impact of the change is even more noticeable for queries in this category. For example, click-through rate when searching for the phrase “never give up never surrender” increased 32%, and click-through rate for the phrase “gotta be quicker than that” increased 31%. In addition to famous quotes from movies and TV shows, we saw improvements for general phrases like “everything will be ok” and “there you go”. The final click-through rate for these queries is almost 100%.

Davis then had Giphy compare her results from the beginning of the summer before her change to the new results, which showed dramatic improvement.

"Now, the next time you use GIPHY to search for a specific scene or a direct quote, the results will show you exactly what you were looking for," she concluded.

It appears all the dank memes you so desperately want to use will now be more readily accessible.

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