The downsides of no borders or text on Gallery Photos

There are a number of reasons behind eBay’s new photo policy on which states “Borders around pictures, and text added to pictures, will no longer be allowed. Watermarks for attribution purposes only will continue to be allowed”. clearly prohibit any branding such as the borders or text which sellers have routinely used to enhance their images. Many UK sellers include a flag to show their goods are shipped from the UK

Today Tamebay reader David explains what it means to him. Whilst we don’t necessarily agree with all his points, but he makes a very good case for being allowed to enhance images with additional information.

The Gallery Photo – The all important “Money Shot”

eBay’s decision to eliminate explanatory text and graphics in the gallery photo is a devastating blow to all experienced and professional eBay sellers who have been using these powerful communication tools to differentiate ourselves with a unique brand and a highly effective aid to all eBay searchers in quickly finding the goods and services that they are looking for.

After 40 years (13 years on eBay) as an inventor, manufacturer and marketer of professional technical products with sales in the multi-millions of dollars, I have a very deep understanding of human perception as it applies to marketing and conversion – the process of finding potential customers and converting them into paying customers.

My time (and 50,000+ sales) on eBay has taught me and every other eBay seller that the majority of eBay lookers and buyers prefer not to read anything! How many emails have you received from eBay buyers with questions regarding your listings that are already and clearly answered in the photos, title or long description?

A few months into my eBay adventure, I realized that if I wanted to communicate to potential customers salient or important information about the product or terms of the sale, I needed to spell it out in the gallery photo because that’s the only thing these buyers were looking at.

In my case, the gallery photos for all of my listings include the words: “GUARANTEED PRODUCTS” and “CALL OUR FREE 800# LIVE HELP LINE”, both statements clearly communicate that I’m a seller that stands behind my products and is customer service friendly. These eight words immediately improved the number of hits to my pages and continue to allow me to sell my top quality technical products at prices far higher than other sellers.

Think about how most of us search on eBay: we select key search words, hit enter and quickly scan the returned gallery images looking for what we want–and just maybe we glanced over at the price. After clicking on a selected thumbnail and opening the listing, the larger image has to tell the rest of the story in less than a half a second. This is where the term money shot comes from – a clearly defined and comprehensible image with words and graphics that instantly communicates to the potential buyer: THIS IS WHAT I’VE BEEN LOOKING FOR!

Did we read the title? Did we read the long-desciption? Very unlikely until we have actually decided to purchase the item. Now we need to find and carefully R-E-A-D all the additional terms and conditions of the sale seemingly placed every-which-way in eBay’s confusing and poorly designed listing page format that utilizes various fonts, graphic styles and colors that we can’t change!

This is another example (in a never-ending stream) of eBay management’s lack of understanding of how the site functions at the buyer/seller transaction level, because the folks who run eBay are not engaged at any significant level in the labor intensive and restrictive process of selling on the site.

Apparently this new restriction is being implemented because eBay’s “bots” that are programmed to look for various taboo words on the site were not able to effectively find these dangerous hidden messages in the photos so now all of the honest and hard-working sellers and buyers have to suffer.

Editors note: More likely eBay’s reason are to have clear photos which they can use for catalogue images and to ensure that terms and conditions are in the correct places on the eBay View Item page, but the loss of the ability to add information to images will certainly take away the advantages many sellers have enjoyed from enhancing their images with text, graphics, logos and borders.

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So what happens to UK listed BIN'S that qualify for default core exposure on .com where their (.com) picture policy is compromised? Actually I think that David makes a pretty good case for the new .com picture policy.

JD • 10th April 2012 •

Good question, and as is always the case if you list your items available on overseas sites then you need to make sure that you comply with their policies. What happens when they appear because eBay choose to make them available in natural search results when you simply list on with International shipping I don't know :O

Chris Dawson • 10th April 2012 •

Another thought occurs to me as well.. eBay are starting to work on "More like this" technology where they scan an image for shape and colour. That also won't work with text, borders etc and yet another reason for having images of the product only.

Chris Dawson • 10th April 2012 •

I followed a discussion thread on this (actually on .ca) with respect to 'borders'. Many collectables sellers use a background to clearly show the edges of the item being sold. It seems that 'backgrounds' are ok. 'Borders' seem to be defined as something added.

JD • 10th April 2012 •

Hola, Quick one. eBay will have the stats on this which is why I don't understand it. I'm hoping that someone from eBay UK might actually read this with some common sense and access to the raw data to verify this. Do you click on the image or the item title? Thought so... Cross compare the click stats from an item that has a border and an item that does not have a border for the image. Now that's the reason why this should not be applied to eBay UK and why David is right. Matt :)

Matthew Ogborne • 10th April 2012 •

Isn't non-searchable text one of the things that ebay doesn't like?

JohnC • 10th April 2012 •

These guys are going to have real problems when this gets to .uk: and: Sure there are lots more......

Gerry007 • 10th April 2012 •

Not really, these sellers only have a couple hundred listings. Search for car parts. Look at someone like Aceparts_UK who have 135,000 listings!

Ryan • 11th April 2012 •

991 listings is still enough.

Gerry007 • 11th April 2012 •

You obviously dont understand my point. You are not understanding how much of an issue this could be for a seller who stocks many variations. Yes 991 is enough, but its a very small problem compared to somebody with 135x more listings! Looking at our images we could change around 1200 a day with 1 man on the job. 1 day wouldnt be much of a problem. Take 135k images, well that would be nearly 4months with 1 man on the job! Now that is a problem.

Ryan • 11th April 2012 •

True, maybe someone should be kind enough to give them the heads up so they can start planning for it! Personally I hate images like that and will be glad to see them go.

Liz • 10th April 2012 •

we agree with Dave though we have gave up now, and bung any old picture in and write any old bollocks ,it dont matter what you do the buyers see what they want, regardless of what we enter, partial discount after the fact has become a real problem these days, so we say nowt so as to minimise the evidence against us

st georges dragon • 10th April 2012 •

in fact we once listed an item as damaged, broke beyond repair , with faults flaws and problems, sold as a collectors item and not suitable for use and we still got a whineing pillock saying we should have mentioned specific fact a catch was broke and filed an item not as described and partial refund request for $3 which counted against us in the buyer protection tripe

st georges dragon • 10th April 2012 •

for ebay to do this they should really revise their search facility. A lot of these seller have this added to help add more info for the buyer to see when searching and also to distinguish it from other sellers. Ebay are copying amazon, so they should incorporate a more sophistical search.

fusion • 10th April 2012 •

"should really revise their search facility" amen to that

st georges dragon • 10th April 2012 •

I must be doing it wrong, I never click the gallery picture always the title. But then I read discriptions too. I must be odd.

board_surfer • 10th April 2012 •

I've been expecting this announcement for a while in the UK and have prepared for it but it will still be a significant blow. I think a well designed border can cause a buyer to consider that the seller has taken some time and not just used a stock image. It does feel like marketplaces such as eBay are working hard to do everything they can to make price the only differentiator - given that they have already made moves to reduce the exposure of many bad sellers and introduce catalogues. Price led retailers are not always successful in the medium/long term. Buyers do not all go for cheap. John

Bamford Trading • 11th April 2012 •

eBay at doing this for a couple of reasons. To align itself more with Amazon's approach to marketplace and images. The second reason is from May Google shopping will no allow watermark or images with borders like on eBay to show in search results. eBay have been working hard with Google to produce better feeds to collect more searches from the shopping and search results portals. For eBay to continue to align itself with Google and Amazon it must take this approach. What it does do is make the search results even more price focused. Its a shame and many hours have been put into overlays and watermarks. The big 3 domination continues. We are all so reliant.

Brian Ebethinking • 11th April 2012 •

Hi Brian, do you have a link to the article about Google and watermarking please.

whirly • 11th April 2012 •

Your images may not contain promotional messages of any kind, including watermarks or promotional text. You are not allowed to submit image links to logo images or other generic images However eBay ARE still allowing watermarks on with the conditions: Watermarks for ownership and attribution only. Marketing information, including specific details about your item or customer service, cannot be part of your watermark. Watermarks should be no bigger than 5% of the total image area, have an opacity of no more than 50%, and never obscure the item. Links are not allowed in watermarks.

Chris Dawson • 11th April 2012 •

Cheers Chris. It sounded like a new policy that Brian referred to, that's been around for a while I thought.

whirly • 11th April 2012 •

This policy has been in for a while you are correct. However Google is going to be much stricter on this from May. eBay will be working closely with them on this because Google shopping is driving good traffic to eBay.

Brian Ebethinking • 13th April 2012 •

I welcome this change, and hope it comes to the UK. In my market area I have 2 sellers that regularly mislead wit the text on their photos, and ebay will do nothing about it since "The descirption and item title are not misleading" Fundamentally wrong to allow text that says "Best Price" or "Lowest Price Guarantee" when the word Guarantee is in very small font. Buyers think they are getting the best when time and again they aren't.

MARTIN DERHAM • 17th April 2012 •

Maybe Ebay plans on selling vendors borders. That they don't want you to put your copyright on your own image is an insult. Does Ebay expect you to allow them use of their image in their catalogs et? The image copyright is with the image creator, wether or not a copyright notice is displayed on the imagee. Maybe Ebay has a rule in their fine print that states that by displaying an image on Ebay you give up your copyright? Image size does not equal imagf quality! I also find the minimum image size idiotic, since many images on Ebay are of low quality, often out of focus, etc. Who wants to see those images in large? Mandating large images, also makes it difficult to make text and info stick out among the huge images. For now I will create html listings with borderless images on agrey background. After all, borderless images of products on a white bacground on a white page look lousy. Ebay really understands to make doing business more and more tedious and frustrating. I am eagerly waiting for Ebay to falter once an alternative and viable auction site emerges.

moribundman • 28th April 2012 •

Is Ebay maybe talking about image borders that have been created with html? I don't know but imagine those borders may interfere with searrch engines. I don't believe for one second that an image which contains a border, may it be a few or more pixels wide, will affect search engines.

moribundman • 28th April 2012 •