Here’s When to Use a Custom Vehicle Photo vs. No Photo vs. Stock Images

Dealership marketing communiqués are inclusive of blog articles, advertisements, online content (website copy), social media content and more. Words communicate stories and even the description of new models, but photos are crucial to help customers visualize their new car options.

Yet, are photos necessary for every marketing endeavor? Here’s when to use a custom vehicle photo vs. no photo vs. stock images.

When to Use a Custom Photo

Custom photos can include dealership branding or even team members. These images are ideal to use for a hero image of a website and are unique to the dealership.

Some custom images could capture a collectible vehicle or just a unique model in the dealership’s inventory. When should dealerships use a custom photo?

  • To highlight dealership culture
  • Advertise or promote a unique vehicle
  • Focus on the dealership brand

Custom photos can be used in online marketing or in materials to showcase the dealership family. Photos might include all the team members, highlight the sales team or perhaps showcase the owner (and maybe a mascot).

Custom photos also are ideal for vehicles that cannot be captured with a traditional stock photo. Any unique vehicle or classic/collectible car could warrant their own custom photo op. Since stock photo libraries only date back to around 1999, older vehicles might require their own photos.

Since custom photos might be more of an investment, dealerships might focus on how they want to use these images and what they want to capture. Again, custom imagery can highlight the dealership culture (aka the “personality”) or include the logo or dealership branding.

These custom branded and culture-focused photos are a great choice for a website hero image (these images are posted on the lead page) or even to use as the main photo on social media accounts.

custom vehicle photo vs no photos vs stock images

When to Ditch the Photos

Is there really a time to ditch the photo? While imagery adds to interest and helps potential buyers understand the features or vehicles or ‘meet’ the team, sometimes images just aren’t necessary.

Overloading a page or website with images can create a site that’s just too busy. An overabundance of photos might not appeal to buyers; in fact, they could be overwhelmed.

Yet, photos are essential to break up text and to add visual appeal. When, then, should dealerships opt to not include a photo?

Social media posts that are just a quick update to customers don’t require a photo. Twitter updates also don’t really need a photo embedded. Quick is ideal.

Sometimes photos aren’t available for a particular model yet. In this case, dealerships shouldn’t post an image of an older photo. They should simply add an update that the photo isn’t available. If using a photo would cause confusion, don’t use the photo.

There are very few instances when dealerships should ditch the photo. However, some social media posts and cases of new models that don’t yet have photos are two instances when no photo might be the preference.

When to Use Stock Images

Dealerships might be familiar with stock images. These are quite common for showcasing new models in the dealership’s inventory. When should dealerships use stock photos?

Stock photos are ideal for a variety of uses, including:

  • Creating extensive vehicle slideshows
  • Designing augmented reality experiences
  • Enhancing user interaction (UX)
  • Breaking up text

Creating Vehicle Slideshows Online

Today’s car buyers go online to research their car options. Slideshows that showcase the interior and exterior features of vehicles can help buyers explore vehicles from home.

Dealerships can use stock photos to create an extensive slideshow to showcase available new models. EVOX Images offers an extensive library of images for each make/model in its photo inventory. Dealerships can utilize a variety of images that show detailed and up-close shots of interior features like the gear shift or infotainment screen. 

There are also many exterior images for each model to help buyers understand the design of each model; there are even close-up shots of the wheels/rims.

custom vehicle photo vs no photos vs stock images

Designing Augmented Reality Experiences

Not all images are suitable to use when creating augmented reality experiences. As dealerships enter the augmented world and begin offering experiences that allow buyers to preview cars in any space, they will need images compatible to use with augmented reality.

EVOX Images offer a library for each model that includes images that are compatible with augmented reality experiences. Flat, one-dimensional images won’t translate to augmented reality; EVOX offers the immersive multi-dimensional photos that translate to an interactive augmented reality experience.

Enhancing the User Experience (UX)

Stock photos can elevate and enhance the user experience online. Not only are these photos compatible with augmented reality experiences, but EVOX Images also offers dealerships animated and interactive stock images, too.

Spin photos let the customers use either their fingertip (for mobile devices) or their mouse to interact with the image. Exterior spin photos let users turn the car around a full 360 degrees to view it from all angles. Panorama spin photos let users explore the interior of vehicles; these images are designed to give the illusion that an individual is in the front seat looking all around the car.

In addition, EVOX Images offers numerous new animated photos. Dealerships can choose photos animated to show the car driving into the shot or driving in and spinning around. Animated photos also give dealerships a unique way to provide all the paint hue options to customers; an animated photo shows the car turning around and changing paint colors as it spins.

Another animated image gives users a look at the car from different vantage points (like drone footage), and the car changes colors as the view changes.

These photo options add interest to a page or encourage interaction. While spin photos let users explore the car, the animated photos load automatically and provide an eye-catching experience for site visitors.

Breaking Up Text

One of the easiest—and perhaps most common—ways to use a stock photo is simply to break up text on a webpage or on a blog. Stock images can be used to help illustrate a highlighted model or it can help buyers see a part of the car being discussed in an article.

Too much text can be overwhelming, and images are an easy way to add visual interest and chunk text into smaller paragraphs. How many photos is too many, though?

If dealerships are creating blog content, they may add two images per 500 words of content. An article with 1,000 words might have three to four images.

Dealerships can look at their article or their web content to better understand the appropriate amount of images. Again, dealerships don’t want to overload a page with photos. However, images can be useful for illustrating an article or showcasing specific features of a vehicle discussed on a page or in a social media post.

custom vehicle photo vs no photos vs stock images

Custom Vehicle Photo vs Stock Images Car Dealerships

Every marketing endeavor and project is unique, and dealerships also have their brand and culture that needs to remain consistent. When deciding when and how to use a custom vehicle photo vs. stock images, car dealerships might decide on the best option based on the marketing tactic or even the vehicle being showcased.

Used or older vehicles might be better served with a custom image. In addition, dealerships can use custom imagery when they need to integrate their team (culture) or their brand.

Stock photos can be used for many marketing needs. These photos are ideal to use to promote new models and create interactive experiences (like augmented reality).

There are even a few instances that dealerships might prefer to use no photos. Social media posts don’t always require a photo. In addition, it’s better to post no photo than an inaccurate photo of a model; if a new model does not yet have a stock photo, dealerships might wait to post a photo of this update to the inventory.

Yet, every dealership might have its own preference for when they use photos and how they use them. In this case, consistency might be the key.