Ford Dealer FAQ
Table of Contents
The Product : VINREAL Image Service
Q. What is photo-real / photorealistic CGI?
- Photorealistic computer-generated imagery of vehicles is deliberately life-like, not post produced ‘beauty shots’ or re-worked to create a stylized image. They are designed to accurately reflect actual conditions (lighting, reflections, etc.) at each dealership to replicate how a vehicle would look if parked and photographed at that dealership.
Q. What is VIN-specific CGI?
- Ford VIN-level build information (i.e. factory installed product codes) is used to compile the relevant visual parts of a vehicle and return a set of images that is product accurate to each VIN. Note, VIN codes do not include any after-market features or anything installed by the dealer sold over the counter, so these things will not show in the images.
Q. What are the advantages of VIN-specific CGI?
- Being able to create the image of a vehicle down to the VIN level means these images can be used to showcase a dealer’s inventory fast, cost-efficiently, and accurately. When merged with photographs of the dealership, you have the ability to display photorealistic images that engage customers with images of your entire stock, custom to your local brand.
Q. What are the benefits of using CGI vehicle image services?
- Dealers have consistently defined specific criteria that must be met for the solution to show true value to their business:
- Realistic imagery. Deliberately life-like, not post produced ‘beauty shots’ – designed to replicate how a vehicle would look if parked and photographed at that exact spec
- Reduced lag time. Process enables dealers to merchandise each vehicle at, or before, delivery. (Subject to State law).
- Available Dealership branding. Ability to showcase the vehicle in front of the
- All stock (based on data availability). Essentially available from serialization, all stock is available including that currently defined as ‘float’.
- Reduced cost. Stock imagery can be considered inexpensive but inadequate. Traditional photography can be expensive and incur significant additional logistical problems and costs. CGI image service reduce costs associated with staging and preparing your inventory for traditional photography, while delivering a high-quality
- Synidcation. Through your inventory provider, dealers can syndicate to social media, local marketing campaigns, Tier 2 interactions, etc. in any way that adds value. There is no additional license fee to re-use the images.
Dealer-Related & Pricing Questions
Q: For a dual Ford and Lincoln store under 1 rooftop, is the pricing per brand or do the vehicle count “buckets” include a count of both Ford and Lincoln vehicles?
- Pricing is PA Code based; Dual dealers will have one price based on combined inventory counts
Q: How will this work for dealer trades?
- If both dealers are currently enrolled in VINReal:
- Dealers will have their backplates on the received vehicle 24 hours after showing in VL Plus feed.
- If only one dealer is enrolled:
- Dealer enrolled in VINReal will receive the backplate for that specific vehicle within 24 hours
- Dealer not enrolled will be responsible for providing vehicle images
Q: Some dealers are concerned about setup fee… What’s included in the cost?
- A professional photographer comes to your dealership to take photos of the building or background. Then, eVN will re-touch and clean up the images (i.e. trees, windows, misc. vehicles etc.) to provide you with a professional-looking backdrop from which to display your inventory. We will also provide dealer with a hi-res digital copy of the dealership backplate.
Q: Is there a monthly fee? If so, what is the cost?
- Yes, there is a monthly fee, which is based on your dealership’s annual inventory for the previous calendar year. The cost is broken down as follows:
- 1-600 vehicles in inventory – $299 / month
- 601-1200 vehicles in inventory – $499 / month
- 1201+ vehicles in inventory – $699 / month
Q: Is there a discount for Select dealers who have a small inventory?
- Not at this time, but we are evaluating the possibility of an additional, smaller price tier for the future.
Q: Is there a contract length? Can it be cancelled easily?
- There is no contract. VINReal is billed is month-to-month. However, if you choose the monthly payment option for the Custom backplate and cancel prior to it being paid off, the balance remaining on the backplate will appear on your parts statement.
Q: Is it possible to have this for non-Ford & Lincoln brands?
Q: Will the monthly charge change in 2021 if we maintain the same number of unique VINs?
- At this time, we are not administering a pricing change. Dealers/FD field will be notified within 30 days if this changes.
Q: If we enroll today, when will we be charged?
- For Custom and Enhanced Generic backplates, you will be charged after your backplate is approved. Due to the nature and timing of the Generic backplate, you will be billed upon completion of the VINReal DPA.
- Your monthly subscription cost will begin once service is live on dealer website
Q: What about adding image overlays?
- FordDirect cannot implement overlays on VINReal images. But this can be requested while working with your Tier-3 Website provider’s backend or inventory management tools.eVN
Backplate Image Questions
Q: What are the backplate options?
- We currently have three different backplate options from which dealers can choose
- Generic: This Ford and/or Lincoln backplate has been created using approved Ford and/or Lincoln dealership elements. Customization is not available for this option.
- Previous – The previous version of the Enhanced Generic Backplate was created by adding the dealer’s name to the existing Generic Backplate. This solution provided some customization options for the dealer.
- Current – The current Ford and/or Lincoln backplate is created using approved Ford and/or Lincoln dealership elements and aided by an online dealership site survey. The goal of this option is to have the backplate look as close to the actual dealership as possible* without a photoshoot being needed. Dealers can customize this backplate by having the dealership name added to the front of the building, as well as by selecting the angle of the building in the background (left, center, right). Dealers will be sent a proof for approval before the backplate is finalized and pushed live.
- *While attempts are made to have the backplate appear as close to the actual building as possible, dealers who wish to have their backplate look exactly like their dealership should select the Custom option
- Custom: Dealers wanting their backplate to be the most dealership-correct image possible should select the Custom backplate option. eVN, partnering with Dealer Specialties, will send a photographer to the dealership and a photograph of the front of the building will be taken. Once the photoshoot is completed, the image is re-touched, and a proof is sent to the dealer for review before the image is finalized and pushed live.
Q: Our dealership is under construction and will be for the next several months. Can we use this tool without a dealership background photo?
- Yes; VINReal will be able to supply a generic Ford/Lincoln Dealership background until construction is complete. Once construction is complete, reach out to your DPC to schedule your custom photo shoot.
Q: How will vehicles appear while in-transit?
- FordDirect will provide a specific “in-transit” background until the vehicle arrives on the dealer lot.
- Please note: Vehicle images will only display with an “In-Transit” background once they have moved to “In-Transit” in Vehicle Locator Plus. If a vehicle is “In Plant”, no image will be available.
Q: We have two Ford stores and the owner wants the backplate to be the same for both. Is that possible?
- Yes, so long as the dealership name on the building is the same.
Q: Can we do different backgrounds based on seasonality?
- Yes… Our partner eVN can re-touch background images for different seasons. (Please reach out to your DPC for specific dealer requests)
Q: We combine inventory with another dealership. Can we have vehicles from both dealerships use the same background image?
- Images of a vehicle will be rendered in front of the dealership that the VIN is assigned to (within OEM NAVIS system).
Q: Do we send you the background photo or do you have someone who comes to take the picture?
- eVN will send out a photographer from our nation-wide network to your dealership to take photos of the dealership. These images will be sent to eVN to clean them up for a professional looking backplate. This is included in your one-time installation fee.
Q: Can a dealer submit their own custom VINReal backplate image?
- Unfortunately, no. Dealers must have their custom backplate photography completed by our partners.
Q: If my dealership has undergone a renovation and I need to update by backplate to reflect the new storefront, what are my options?
- The dealer will need to pay for new custom backplate photography to reflect their updated storefront.
Q: Can I download my dealership backplate image?
- Yes, dealerships can download a high-res version of their backplate image, which can be used for additional marketing purposes.
Q: Can my VINReal backplate image be of something other than my dealership storefront?
- These requests are taken on a case-by-case basis. Please contact your DPC for specific requests.
Vehicle Image Questions
Q: What types of images can I expect to receive from VINReal?
- VINReal supplies at least 21 vehicle images (Primary: At least 9 Exterior and 3 Interior, plus a mix of 10+ interior/exterior details (exact images vary vehicle-to-vehicle)
Q: How can FordDirect guarantee the images will be VIN-specific?
- VINReal utilizes the extended VIN and CAD data direct from Ford Engineering to ensure all factory-installed packages and options are included and that every vehicle appears accurate. Only VINReal can offer this level of data, direct from Ford Motor Company.
Q: Are Dealer name license plates available?
- We are currently exploring options to offer this in the future.
Q: Will these pictures have the ability at some point to be interactive?
- Not at this time. We have added this feature to our product roadmap.
Q: What vendor is rendering the images?
Q: Are they all CGI? Do they look the same for each dealer besides the background?
- Yes, and Yes
Q: What do you do with mileage differences between your dashboard pic and the actual vehicle?
- All odometers will be set to a generic mileage that is commonly found in dealer’s inventory (less than 10 miles shown). The odometer readings in VINReal images may not match actual vehicle mileage.
Q: Does VINReal capture the F-Series pickup tailgate step?
- The tailgate step will not be visible in VINReal images of F-Series pickups.
Q: How does VINReal handle vehicles that feature an aftermarket upfit?
- VINReal displays each vehicle based on the way it was produced by Ford Motor Company. VINReal will not display any aftermarket upfits. Dealers should consider uploading their own photos of vehicles featuring an upfit, in addition to using those provided by VINReal.
Q: Is the F-Series Super Duty (F-250/etc.) included with VINReal?
- F-Series Super Duty Pickup models are available with VINReal. This includes the F-250/F-350/F-450 pickup models. Super Duty Chassis Cab models will NOT be available with VINReal.
Q: How about the Ford Transit van? Will it be available when using VINReal?
- Sometimes. Ford Transit Passenger Vans can be created using VINReal if the unit is ordered as a retail sales unit. If it is ordered as a commercial or fleet vehicle, it will not exist as a VINReal image. Transit Connect vans and Transit NA Cargo vans are not available with VINReal.
Q: Are there any Ford or Lincoln vehicles not included in this service?
- Yes, images of some vehicles are not available in VINReal. Some examples of this include:
- Super Duty Chassis Cab (F-350 / F-450 / F-550 / F-600)
- Medium Duty Trucks (F-650 / F-750)
- Transit Connect
- Transit NA Cargo Vans
- Transit CC CA
- Stripped Chassis
- E-Series Cutaway
- Ford GT
Q: Will video walk-arounds be produced using the VINReal imagery?
- We’re currently investigating this option.
Q: It looks like VINReal works great for my new inventory? But, can it be done with pre-owned inventory as well?
- No. Pre-owned Inventory will need to be photographed separately.
Q: Would I be able to use these photos on my other website even if it’s not my FordDirect website?
- Yes. VINReal images and backdrops can be used throughout your dealership’s marketing platforms and social media channels.
Q: If we have multiple vehicles that are exactly the same, will they all look exactly the same?
- If the vehicles have been built exactly the same, the VINReal images for each vehicle will be identical. However, using VL Plus, a dealer can re-order VINReal images by model, and VIN in order to create some differentiation between how they appear on the dealer’s website.
Q: Can you use stock photos until the vehicle lands on the lot?
- VINReal provides a separate in-transit background, which is different from the dealership background. This helps make it clear to the consumer that a vehicle is in-transit.
Q: We have commercial trucks with service bodies added – How are pictures handled in that case?
- These vehicles will not be available through VINReal. Your dealership will need to take specific photos of these vehicles.
Q: Will there be a 360° view of the photos?
- Not currently.
Q: I have enrolled in VINReal, but images of my inventory are not displaying. How do I fix this?
- The most common reason why VINReal images are not displaying on a dealership’s website is that the syndication settings have not been set in VL+. Instructions for updating these settings are listed in bullet point down below. Another reason could be that the settings of your 3rd party syndication provider aren’t allowing the VINReal images to overwrite the existing dealer-provided images. Please contact your provider’s support group for further help.
Q: We currently utilize 3rd party syndication (i.e. vAuto, HomeNet, Dealer Specialties, etc). How do we get these pictures to display across all our vendor sites?
- FordDirect has worked with many inventory providers to be an accepted feed and syndicate across the dealer’s digital ecosystem. For more information on how and where your syndication provider sends the VINReal images, please contact the provider’s support group.
Q: How do I find out which 3rd party syndication partners VINReal works with?
- VL+ has the most up-to-date list of syndication partners
- Click the Images tab in VL+ and then click the Syndication tab
Q: How and where do I configure my inventory provider for VINReal?
- If you utilize the FordDirect inventory feed, please follow these steps:
- Login to Vehicle Locator Plus
- Click the Images tab
- Click the Inventory Image Source tab if not already selected
- Click Modify Sources
- Use the arrow button to move VINReal to the Default spot in the list
- Click Save
- Verify on the Inventory Image Source screen that VINReal is listed as Default
- If you utilize a 3rd party inventory provider, please follow these steps:
- Login to Vehicle Locator Plus
- Click the Images tab
- Click the Syndication tab
- Scroll down until you find your provider
- Check the appropriate boxes
- Click Submit at the bottom
- Reach out to your inventory provider to let them know FordDirect is sending them VINReal photos and discuss settings*
- *Some inventory providers do not automatically allow new images to overwrite existing images. Please, when you talk with your inventory provider, make sure the settings you have in place will allow the VINReal images to overwrite any existing images.
Q: Can I use Dealer Socket as my inventory syndication partner?
- Dealer Socket is not currently structured to receive the FordDirect VINReal feed. Dealers who utilize Dealer Socket will need to work with their FordDirect website partner to establish the VINReal feed. Please contact your DPC for more information.
Q: Do we need a 3rd party syndication provider to utilize VINReal?
- All imagery will be sent out via FordDirect’s VL+ tool. Dealers can utilize Ford’s NGP feed or choose to use a 3rd party provider.
Model Year Change Over Questions
Q: How does FordDirect handle vehicle images during the model year change over period?
- The availability of VINReal vehicle images for a new model year hinge on two elements:
- MYCO (Model Year Change Over) dates for the model. These dates are set by Ford and FordDirect has no influence on them. The MYCO dates can also change multiple times before being finalized. Until the MYCO date passes, vehicle inventory and images will not appear on dealer websites. In most cases, the MYCO date for a vehicle passes before a dealer has inventory, but that’s not always the case. Occasionally (2021 Explorer is an example), dealers will have inventory in stock before the MYCO date, though, and that will result in new vehicle inventory that is not displaying on dealer websites until the MYCO date passes.
- Quality Assurance (QA) for each vehicle must take place before images can be released. During the MYCO period, the second aspect that can affect vehicle timing is the QA process. Every vehicle sees some changes from one model year to the next and these changes need to be reflected in VINReal images. Accuracy of these images is paramount, so before images can be released and made live, eVN conducts a thorough validation of their renderings against photos or videos of production-representative vehicles on dealer lots. This ensures that VINReal images will be accurate to what dealers have on their lots. It’s because this final QA cannot happen until vehicles reach dealer lots, that VINReal images can take longer to be available than we would all wish.