Photography marketing

The Digital Retail World Emphasizes Vehicle Photography

Photos of the cars you have for sale are more important than ever. More people are buying cars and trucks online than just a few years ago, and we hear a lot of people making decisions based on vehicle photos.

Yes, list price, financing and credit availability are important. But the pleasure of the photographic eyes is undoubtedly what arouses the interest.

Online technology makes the photo process different

Auto dealers are expected to spend about $9.4 billion on advertising and marketing in 2022, up 8.8%, according to Borrell Associates. That’s a lot of money for a segment of the industry notoriously sensitive to ad spend. However, the problem encountered by resellers is not to decide whether spend on advertising but rather where to spend it. It’s important to use vehicle photos in advertising, but make sure they’re high quality.

Of the hundreds of US dealership ad campaigns we observe and review each month, we typically see about half of dealership vehicle inventory photos disabled and rejected by search engines such as Google. Reasons include poor image quality and overlays.

Good vehicle photos aren’t just shots

Dealerships today have two primary needs when building the right inventory of vehicle images: the right resources and trained photographers to capture the images. This does not necessarily require a large outlay of money. As in many other areas of digital commerce today, there are many apps and software available to enhance photos. Dealerships are also advised to invest in photography training for staff.

Once the photos are taken and uploaded, there’s another critical element that today’s apps and software can’t always fix: professional editing. Vehicle images should provide the correct angles, light balance, straightness, and color corrections. These minor details can mean the difference between someone falling in love with their next BMW or checking out a Lexus at another dealership.

Quality control is essential. Whether the photos are used or new, they must be of high quality. And the details matter. When vehicles come out of reconditioning, those overseeing the digital processes need to spot any potential flaws, like a photo of a vehicle without bumpers – it happens more than you might think.

Understanding each of these photography best practice areas will be key to meeting and exceeding monthly sales goals, but they will also help ensure that car shoppers remember the superior online shopping experience they have had in your digital storefront. The right vehicle photography will keep them coming back, improve sales, and ensure you’re not wasting digital marketing dollars each month on search engines.


Peter Duffy is founder and CEO of Dealer Image Pro, a professional dealership photography service provider that provides dealerships with photography equipment, training, professional editing and quality control.