No matter how good a car seems on paper, how a car looks is often what ultimately guides buying decisions. While customers are spending less and less time looking at cars in dealerships, they still want to see what a car looks like inside and out. Since the rise of digital technology, many car buyers spend more time looking at cars online than ever before.

To create modern, engaging shopping experiences, dealership groups need access to more—and better—images than when relying showroom presentation alone. High-quality car stock photos have become essential components of dealership websites and marketing materials, and specialized stock libraries have emerged to meet the demand for depth and breadth of coverage. But despite the availability of these images, the number of assets needed can make accessing those assets a sizable investment. If a dealership group is paying by the image or by the model, the cost of stock photos can add up quickly, particularly for groups that maintain multiple dealerships across brands.

For many dealership groups, the best solution is choosing car stock photos with an extended license. An extended license can provide access to a library of the car stock images that includes all makes and models sold by the group for a locked-in rate—without additional or unexpected fees. However, it’s critical to choose a library that provides the quality and comprehensive coverage dealership groups need.


Dealership groups often rely on a number of different image types throughout their organization. Whether used in image galleries showcasing each vehicle offered, digital ads, virtual reality experiences, or as part of key website design elements, stock photos play a pivotal role in virtually all digital marketing channels. As such, having access to a diverse, regularly updated selection of interior and exterior images that provide a complete overview of every car is essential. 

However, even if the content of a stock photo is perfect, the format may not be suited for the specific way a group hopes to use it. To ensure successful deployment, images should ideally be available in a variety of sizes and formats, including those optimized for mobile-friendly applications. Additionally, technology is continuously evolving, making old formats obsolete, raising standards for image quality and loading times, and opening up innovative new ways of engaging customers in digital environments. As a result, dealership groups may need to periodically replace existing assets with more recent iterations and review opportunities to take advantage of emerging technologies. 



While car stock photos are a smart investment for dealership groups, their true value depends in part on their licensing structure. The most common stock photo licensing structures are:

Rights Managed

Rights managed licenses are the most restrictive type of photo licensing. The licensee pays a fee (royalty) each time an image is used, and rates are based on how long, how frequently, and in what sizes images are used. Rights managed licenses are also typically time-bound, and use after the expiration date is a violation of the licensing agreement. Despite these restrictions, rights managed licenses, unlike other stock photo licensing structures, may present the opportunity for exclusive use.

Royalty Free

Royal free licensing is the most common licensing structure for stock photos—and the most misunderstood. “Royalty free” doesn’t mean that the images are without cost. Rather, it means that the licensee pays a flat fee instead of paying a fee for each use. The exact terms of the license can vary depending on a variety of factors. For example, the fee for many royalty free stock photos is based on a particular circulation level. If viewership exceeds that level, the licensee will have to pay an additional fee for an extended license. Additionally, not all types of royalty free images are available for commercial use. However, there is often no expiration date or restrictions on the number of uses.

Extended Licenses

An extended license—sometimes called an enhanced license—is similar to a royalty free license, but has a number of additional advantages. With an extended license, the licensee pays a fee for an unlimited number of uses of an image, which may be based on viewership. Importantly, stock photos with extended licenses may be used commercially, allow the licensee to modify and brand images, and be authorized for use over long terms.


While rights managed and royalty free licensing can be ideal for some organizations, entering into extended licensing agreements with a stock agency typically has significant advantages for car dealership groups. For many, the primary benefit is the ability to enter into longer agreements and lock in discounted pricing for longer terms. This not only makes stock photo use more cost-effective and predictable, it also ensures that dealership groups don’t have to continually switch out assets due to expiring license. Additionally, extended licensing greatly enhances flexibility; dealership groups have the ability to use images in diverse and evolving ways and incorporate branding elements to optimize impact.


For car dealership groups, extended licenses can provide the practical freedom and cost efficiency needed to incorporate car stock photos in a broad spectrum of marketing efforts. However, extended licenses only make sense if the stock library offers the depth, breadth, quality, and speed to market you need. 

When choosing a car stock photo library, it’s critical to consider whether it features high-quality, comprehensive coverage of all makes and models represented within the dealership group—both now and in the future. The best car stock photo library will house a complete back catalog of existing vehicles as well as first-to-market updates showcasing just-announced and newly released vehicles in a variety of user-friendly formats. It will also continuously develop new products designed for the evolving automotive industry, including those that harness the potential of emerging technologies—and allow dealership groups to trial and add these products as needed rather than keeping them stuck in static long-term contracts. All of these factors are invaluable to ensuring the group has access to the diverse assets it needs, even as those needs change.

With the right partner and the right licensing structure, car dealership groups can make their investment in car stock photos a wise one.


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