Gist in a Glance: Ad Processing in 100 ms or Less




People are exposed to hundreds to thousands of advertising messages each day; the majority of these receive no more than a glance, much shorter than a second. Little is known about single glance processing of ad information however. In four experiments, we show that consumers have specific ad templates in memory that are similar within and distinct across product categories (experiment 1). Therefore, within 100 ms consumers already know with a high degree of certainty whether a visual image is an ad or other, surrounding material, and if the ads are prototypical which product category is advertised (experiment 2). Such immediate identification of the gist of prototypical ads is based on color and coarse, global rather than detailed, local visual information in the ad, which is needed to a larger extent for the identification of non-prototypical ads (experiment 3). Even exceptionally rudimentary blobs of global visual information already contribute to immediate gist extraction, but category identification of non-prototypical ads requires more detail (experiment 4). This provides evidence that rapid gist extraction of ads is based on diagnostic objects and global scene characteristics rather than on one of these singularly, as has been debated. This has implications for advertising theory and marketing research practice.
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Dr. S. Puntoni