How eBay's Picture Policy Will Affect You

Here's what you need to know when the new policy takes effect July 1.

by staff writer
- Jun 10, 2013

eBay's new picture policy has stirred a lot of anxiety among sellers since it was first announced more than a year ago, even though eBay delayed enforcement to give merchants plenty of time to comply.

Now that eBay says it definitely plans to start enforcing the picture policy July 1, let's take a comprehensive look at what's changing, what you need to do about it and how Auctiva can help.

If you recently received a love letter from eBay itemizing listings that may violate the image policy, use that list to prioritize your plan of action.

First, some clarification

Listings created before July 1 will not be subject to the image policy, unless they are edited or ended

The main thing to understand is that, for sellers using third-party listing services, like Auctiva, the new picture requirements only apply to images that will be used as the main eBay gallery or header image, and any that will be included in your Optional eBay Gallery Images selection. So if you click that optional box on the Auctiva lister, make sure the images you include are in compliance.

eBay further tells us that listings created before July 1 will not be subject to the image policy, unless they are edited or ended—so if your listings are Good 'Til Cancelled, you can relax for a while.

However, listings designated for automatic relist need to comply before they can be relisted. That's because they are considered ended before they relist. So if you're using an Auctiva Auto-Relist Profile, make sure your images will pass muster. If you need to, you can remove the Auto-Relist Profile from the listings using the Stop Auto-Relist Profile button on your Active Listings page.

You can also replace those images while the listings are still live. Try our Replace tool on your Image Management page in

Now let's look at the different pieces of the new picture policy.

Minimum photo size

What's changing? eBay will require a minimum image length of 500 pixels on the longest side. Larger pictures give buyers a closer look at your items, and eBay encourages sellers to include images as large as 1,600 pixels long.

What to do? eBay recommends setting your camera's default picture quality to medium or high to ensure your images are large enough.

Pictures uploaded to Auctiva will automatically display with the Supersize option that lets buyers click to view images at their upload size, up to 1,920 pixels by 1,440 pixels.

No borders on photos

You can replace images in live listings using Auctiva's tool or wait until the listings end to replace them

What's changing? eBay will no longer allow images that have borders, either graphical or text. According to eBay, pictures with solid, neutral backgrounds get better exposure in outside search engines. Not only that, the marketplace wants pictures to be "somewhat standardized," according to a spokesman on an eBay seller forum.

What to do? eBay recommends photographing your item against a plain background. If you've been using photo editing software to add graphical borders to your images, stop.

You can replace images in live listings using our tool or wait until the listings end to replace them.

Watermark policy

What's changing? eBay is cracking down on image watermarks that are too large, obscure the item, or contain marketing information or website names. Watermarks should only be used to identify ownership of the image.

What to do? Use your business name as your watermark, by all means, but don't include a Web address or other marketing fluff. Also, make sure the watermark is no bigger than 5 percent of the total image area and no more than 50 percent opaque.

Auctiva's watermarking feature supports text-only watermarks, and lets you easily select the opacity and placement of your watermark, and adjust the size.

No text or artwork on photos

What's changing? eBay will prohibit the use of graphical elements like logos and marketing copy in listing images. Photos should showcase your item and nothing else, eBay says.

What to do? Just say no to adding text or flashy artwork to your pictures. eBay suggests putting any copy that is essential to your listing in the title, subtitle or description.

Buyers will appreciate being able to see the exact item they're buying—and will be less likely to later file a 'not as described' claim

If you feel your images must include some additional text about the item, consider adding captions using Auctiva. (Note: This feature only works if you're using Auctiva's listing templates.) You can type in your captions on the Image Management page, and when you create your listing, be sure to check the Display Image Captions box on the One-Page Lister.

Every listing must have at least one photo

What's changing? To create a better shopping experience, eBay is now requiring all listings to have at least one image. As of October, listings submitted through any of eBay's listing tools are rejected if they don't include at least one photo.

What to do? Policy or not, it just makes sense to include a picture of the item you're trying to sell. With Auctiva, you can include up to 24 Supersized images for no extra charge, so you can show your item from every angle, in close-up detail.

Stock photos only for brand-new items

What's changing? When you list a used item using the eBay catalog, you will no longer be allowed to use the catalog's stock image as your main listing image. Stock photos can still be included in the listing for a used item, but can't be used as the main image.

What to do? Take the time to shoot an original shot of the item you're trying to sell. Buyers will appreciate being able to see the exact item they're buying—and will be less likely to later file a "not as described" claim.

Auctiva has added an advisory message on the lister page to remind you of this restriction.

Are you ready for eBay's new picture policy?

About the Author

Auctiva staff writers constantly monitor trends and best practices of those selling on eBay and elsewhere online. They attend relevant training seminars and trade shows and regularly discuss the market with PowerSellers and other market experts.

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