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CGI Photos for New Cars - Really?

Mar 21, 2012
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Ryan
Why are OEMs pushing dealers to quit taking real photos of their new vehicles and instead sign up for co-op supported fake CGI photos that fall somewhere between the quality of a stock image and a real photo?

Customers are shopping online more than ever, is now really the time to provide a worse consumer experience?

Most CGI "photo" companies only offer 15 photos per vehicle, with a measly 5 photos of the interior. Are 5 fake interior photos enough for consumers buying a $70k truck?

I totally get that CGI photos require no effort to manage and are live the day the vehicle arrives on the lot, but does that really justify making the switch?

If this technology existed 10 years ago when dealers sucked at taking photos, it would have been awesome. But it's 2020, and customers expect more of us.

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Mar 21, 2012
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Ryan
Yes, customers expect more. However a majority of the dealers (hardly any are on this forum) are unable to deliver. So the OEM came up with a halfway decent scalable solution.
To play devil's advocate, how difficult would it be for an OEM to allow dealers to co-op a nationwide outsourced photo vendor like Dealer Specialties?

And I wish it was only incompetent dealers who make the switch, but I've been seeing too many large well-run dealers (some in my group even) take the easy way out and sign up for CGI photos at the urging of their OEM rep.
 

DrewAment

3rd Base Coach
Apr 30, 2009
331
153
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Drew
To play devil's advocate, how difficult would it be for an OEM to allow dealers to co-op a nationwide outsourced photo vendor like Dealer Specialties?
LOL -- we fight over the approved website venders, and have our favorites. Think we would run into the same problems with an "approved photo vender"??


And I wish it was only incompetent dealers who make the switch, but I've been seeing too many large well-run dealers (some in my group even) take the easy way out and sign up for CGI photos at the urging of their OEM rep.
Someone that sells, is being sold? HAHAHHA
 
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Reactions: Alexander Lau

Alexander Lau

Under the Bridge
Feb 11, 2015
2,463
761
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Alex
It's just a matter of time before the photo authentica companies are out of business, unless they change up their model on some level. Not going to happen anytime soon, but it will. I believe https://www.evoximages.com/ uses bits and pieces of CGI already.
 

Alex Snyder

President Skroob
May 1, 2006
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Alex
Customers are shopping online more than ever, is now really the time to provide a worse consumer experience?
Customers don't matter.

COVID brought layoffs and remote work to all non-essential businesses. Thankfully, dealers didn't experience it as long once showrooms were allowed to open back up again. Then a line of check-holding-bored-ass-no-longer-quarantined folks who wanted a change of scenery from their house busted down the doors. Sure, I'll spend 6 hours in a dealership today! Beats the hell out of listening to my kids and screaming insanities on Facebook.

Many other businesses had to shift what they did to stay relevant (I look forward to sharing our COVID pivot story one day). Some manufacturers flipped to producing ventilators. And quite a few said, "if we don't give customers a way to buy a car online our dealers won't sell another car." We're just now seeing the results of that panic move, and it is another :rolleyes:

But that started a greater trend of importance for the OEM arms that come up with things for retail. With that importance, it is now time to shine! Prove the worth to the higher-ups and show quick change. Nobody wants to get caught in the next layoff.

So, let's make quick changes everyone at HQ can see that has my name on it! We'll bend the stats to fit the direction and sell it back to the dealers later- they'll do anything we tell them to.


...at least, that's my theory on how basic human psychology is working in a post-COVID corporate structure. Notice, I failed to mention anything about actually moving the needle in a car dealership.
 
Mar 21, 2012
346
401
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Ryan
Notice, I failed to mention anything about actually moving the needle in a car dealership.
Oh, it moves the needle, in the wrong direction.

Below is a chart showing our average third party VDP / SRP CTR % at two of our stores that made the switch to CGI photos against my advice.

This means customers are clicking on our vehicles less often and our competitors more often.

PS: The CTR at our other stores that have kept taking real photos has stayed relatively flat. And yes, there are a million variables at play but third-party CTR seems to be the best way to judge how consumers respond to CGI photos.

third party.JPG
 

Chris Cachor

3rd Base Coach
Apr 29, 2011
432
204
First Name
Chris
I agree completely. And it doesn't just impact website behavior -- all your ad metrics (CPE, CPL, etc.) are going to go through the roof because nobody cares to see a fake image. Website engagement drops, then your site ranking drops. Then nobody comes to your site when shopping for a vehicle cause you couldn't fulfill a basic expectation of your customers...
 

ggarvin

Lot Lizard
Apr 20, 2009
35
18
First Name
Glen
Intuitively the CGI images are just Stock Photos 2.0. Better than normal stock photos but they do not inspire and don't go in-depth enough especially on the interior images. I definitely see an advantage over regular stock photos... and if you struggle getting a good percentage of new car photos done, perhaps this helps to some degree. And it will save you money on photos but at what costs?

Putting aside the obvious disdain for the way they look, the analytics are telling. Consumers are not engaging with them vs. actual new car photos. Ryan's information is just another example of what I've heard from many dealers. Great topic and a great question why a couple of OEMs are using their influence on this seemingly small issue.
 
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Tallcool1

Boss
Mar 17, 2014
372
225
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Clint
@Ryan Everson , I believe you have made a strong case for dealers that do a good job of picturing their New inventory. Don't step backward.

From the outside looking in, I believe that @DrewAment (the ole 3rd base coach) is on track in terms of the direction that the OEM's were trying to go here and that is to offer SOME type of solution to the dealerships that either take horrible photos or that don't take any photos at all. It would be interesting to see the other side of the equation when it comes to the Click Through Rate and how that number is trending for these sub-par merchandising dealerships. I know that some of this would likely be difficult to measure because most dealerships that do a bad job with pictures may not have their inventory on 3rd party sites.