Google’s New Skin Tone Schema – Inclusivity in Search

Google has recently announced its new addition of skin tone schema and the innovative way new inclusive schema is leading to more representative machine learning. But what is Google’s new skin tone schema and how will it affect search as we know it? We talk through all of this and more in our guide to inclusive schema and how to use it. 

skin tone arms


What is Google’s New Inclusive Schema?

Google’s new development in inclusive schema is a new way of looking at colour in search and AI. They have introduced a brand new MST colour scale to enable creators and online businesses to label their content in a way that search engines can better understand. Google’s new schema will allow creators to tag their images with labels such as skin tone, hair colour and hair texture to give more information about the content they are creating.


What is the MST Scale?

The Google MST Scale or Monk Skin Tone Scale is a new type of colour scale that expands on the traditionally-used Fitzpatrick Scale. The Fitzpatrick Scale was created with six broad shades of skin and was a way of medically categorising skin types. The MST Scale, created by professor and sociologist Dr Ellis Monk, has expanded this skin colour scale to include 10 different skin tones in order to better represent a wider range of skin tones. Whilst most AI systems use the Fitzpatrick Scale in order to measure skin tone, Google will now use this new system in order to classify skin tones in its AI systems including in search and Google technologies.

the monk skin tone scale

The 10 Monk Skin Tone Scale shades (Source: Google Blog)


Why Have Google Introduced This New System?

When it comes to machine learning and new systems that improve how people search and use google technologies, inclusivity is key. With the new MST Scale, by creating 10 different tones to work with, Google has found a way to give people something they can see themselves in without overcomplicating the system beyond usability. Adding information such as skin colour, hair colour and hair texture to content such as images allows searchers to better filter searches to fit their own needs and gives Google more information to work with when it comes to categorising images, products and websites. By improving the way AI sees skin colour, Google has paved the path for more innovative technologies and services. 


How Does the New Inclusive Schema System Work?

By adding tags to images and content such as skin colour, hair colour and hair texture, creators are able to give Google more information about what their website includes. Google can then use that information to better inform searchers and personalise results that better fit what the user is searching for. Inclusive Schema will work to better inform AI and machine learning to create a more inclusive set of technologies. By using this new system, Google has created the potential to reduce bias in the data sets used to train AI in a wide range of applications.


Marking Up Skin Tone in Your Own Schema to Promote Inclusivity

If you are looking for a way to use the new Google schema and appear in the new searches based on skin tone, hair colour and hair texture, now is the perfect time. If your website content shows images of people, inclusive schema could help you show up better in results that include people or where people show up in the results.


How Could Inclusive Schema Affect the Search Experience?

Being able to categorise by things such as skin colour, hair colour and hair texture looks set to completely transform the whole search experience. Content will be sorted by more definable elements depending on what the user is searching for. Those searching for makeup inspiration, for example, will now be able to specify the type of skin tone they are looking for and get results that align better with what they are looking for. Searches such as everyday makeup looks, bridal looks and more could create a more inclusive search experience with results that match up with a more diverse audience.

Aside from affecting a simple google search, improved schema can help improve the machine learning that affects many elements of our day-to-day lives. Using the expanded MST Scale, unlocking your phone screen, a doorbell camera or the way your phone categorises photos by similar faces could all benefit from an enhanced skin colour palette to draw on and learn from. With the new MST Scale, camera and editing apps that automatically adjust things such as the brightness of your images could become much more intuitive.


Future Thoughts on Making the Online World More Inclusive

Whilst this may just be the first of many steps towards a more inclusive online world, inclusive content is set to change the way many technologies learn and adapt. Google is finding more and more ways to go further in making search more inclusive and representative of a diverse society. By creating content labels, Google aims to make search results more representative and intuitive for those using the platform whilst creating a more standardised way to label web content going forward.

skin colour scale

Need Some Extra Help from the Experts in Digital Marketing?

If you are looking for help with creating the perfect content for your website or any other element of digital marketing, our team of specialists is here to help. We are up to date with all of the latest Google developments, including Google’s new inclusive search and know exactly how to optimise your website to help you rank. 

To find out more about our digital marketing know-how, contact our team now.