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Too Many Photos Spoil Online Vehicle Listings

Has a friend or family member ever cajoled you to view seemingly endless snapshots of their summer vacation? Boredom starts to creep in at about picture No.40, numbness at photo No.60, deep sleep at No.80.

I noted that to Dean Evans of, after he moderated a session during J.D. Power and Associates’ Automotive Internet Roundtable in Las Vegas.

The session focused on compelling ways to present vehicle inventory online. One way is for dealers to post photos of each vehicle for sale. Evans tells of a dealer who posts 80 photos per vehicle listed on the Internet.


“He’s kind of obsessed,” Evans says, not meaning it as a put-down.

Still, one wonders what such a photographic glut shows when it hits the 70s-range. Perhaps pictures of door handles in the morning, afternoon and evening light.

I know it is important to depict a car at all angles when featuring online inventory. An array of photos helps. One photo per vehicle no longer is enough.

I realize, too, photos get shoppers to click. data show a 170% increase in customer contacts when 11 or more photos of a car are shown.

“If you are not doing 12 photos per car, it’s a hindrance to your store,” Internet marketing consultant Joe Webb said at a recent DealerADvantage webinar.

But I would argue 80 photos is a hindrance. There oughta be a law. And there is. The law of diminishing returns. Do you really need to show that many photos to sell a car?

I would submit quality tops quantity. Online vehicle photos needn’t look like Ansel Adams took them. But crisp shots, good lighting and appealing background sure help move the metal.

“Getting photos right still is a big challenge in the industry,” Nicolas Franchet, senior director-U.S. vehicles for eBay Motors, says at the J.D. Power conference.

Video is the next trend in the ongoing efforts to highlight online inventory. Right now, most video merely consists of stitching together still photos of cars. That leaves room for improvement.

But will future videos become as excessive as showing 80 photos? Will gung-ho dealers post 90-minute videos of a used car?

If so, please pass the popcorn or, better yet, a pillow.

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