Thin slice impressions: How advertising evaluation depends on exposure duration

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23 Citations (Scopus)


The duration of exposures to advertising is often brief. Then, consumers can only obtain “thin slices” of information from the ads, such as which product and brand are being promoted. This research is the first to examine the influence that such thin slices of information have on ad and brand evaluation. Two lab experiments and one large field experiment, with exposure durations ranging from very brief (100 msec.) to very long (30 seconds), provide support for the hypothesis that advertising evaluation critically depends on the duration of ad exposure and on how ads convey which product and brand they promote, but in unexpected ways. Our experiments show that upfront ads, which instantly convey what they promote, are evaluated positively after brief but also after longer exposure durations. Mystery ads, which suspend conveying what they promote, are evaluated negatively after brief but positively after longer exposure durations. False front ads, which initially convey another identity than what they promote, are evaluated positively after brief exposures but negatively after longer exposure durations. Bayesian mediation analysis demonstrates that the sheer “feeling of knowing what the ad promotes” accounts for these ad-type effects on evaluation. The findings demonstrate the importance of thin slices of information in ad and brand evaluation, and have implications for advertising research and management. They reveal the benefits of being upfront in ads when exposure durations are brief, which they increasingly are.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)563-579
JournalJournal of Marketing Research
Issue number4
Early online dateFeb 2016
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2016


  • advertising
  • exposure duration
  • ad identification
  • time pressure
  • thin slice impressions


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