Psychology In Digital Signage - Blog

Psychology In Digital Signage

By Alex on 10/09

Psychology In Digital Signage

It’s not really hard to remember an advertisement that you saw the other day. This is in part because the advert made something tick inside you. We are programmed to remember what we see more and this is why visual ads are something to opt for.

As a marketing strategist, digital signage is one of the best ways to pass across a message about your product.

There are some ways to trick your psychology to remember some things more than others by using digital signage.

The importance of individuality

Digital advertisements are extremely customized to suit certain audiences to rhyme with what they think. It is similar to how families may have the same favorite hobbies or friends who follow the same page because they somehow think alike.

This is also the case in digital signage. If everyone shared their twitter feed but after some intervals sneaked in a digital sign you won’t pay attention to it because everything will seem unchanged. This is why mundane news, even when played a million times, never made hashtags.

Even though a brand creates a powerful digital sign to be played on TV, web, or social media to create familiarity, the looping content zones out its audience. The brain kind of says “I’ve seen this before”. Digital signage offers room for customization of ads where a lot of info about the audience is known. This is where brands break the norms of just playing news and go for music and videos for a better purpose. Or by just letting the customer decide what they want to see – after all, they are right.

Appealing to the two different parts of the brain

Whether we admit it or not, a lot of modern marketing success stories are based on psychology. In 1994, Antonio Damasio, a neuroscientist, published the book “Descartes’ Error: Emotion, Reason, and the Human Brain”. This book tried to explain the importance of two key aspects in our brain: the limbic system and the neocortex, or simply the “inner” and “outer” brains (easier to remember).

The emotional part of our brain is the inner brain which also contains the “reptilian brain”. On the other hand, the outer brain is the part responsible for thinking. In evolution, the inner brain came first and was responsible for on-the-spot decisions. For example, is this angry dog about to bite? If yes, why not make a run for it? The inner brain kept us safe from danger. However, over the years, the outer brain developed a much larger capacity and gave us the ability to think logically, understand different languages and do everything else.

So how does all of this apply to marketing and digital signage in particular?

Truth of it all, everything we decide must go through our inner and outer brain – a balance of logic and emotion. Take an ad for a cruise ship. The logical part knows that a ship is a ship and essentially floats on water in the sea or ocean. But the emotional brain wants to feel the exhilarating breeze in the sea and even want to act out some Titanic scenes.

All advertisements are basically made this way, mostly the famous ones. They must appeal to both the rational and emotional parts of our brains to be appealing.

In terms of digital signage, many studies have proven that depicting a brand personality where the brand can have the human touch – compassion, openness, conscientiousness and so on, makes the audience want it. Digital signage is a powerful visual media that can increase popularity of your brand. Here are some ways it can please the inner brain:

Using digital signage to reduce your customer’s pain

Dominos’ pizza is a perfect example of a brand that listens to what the customer has to say. They did a study and came up with interesting results that the customer is actually scared of how long the pizza would take to arrive rather than not having it at all. In the end, they decided to create a pizza tracking app that could let customers follow the delivery from the oven to their doorstep.

Digital signage can do the same for any establishment; restaurant, coffee shop, offices or even the airport lounge. It kills the wait time – or at least it will seem shorter. Create a screen and provide the average waiting time so that the customer can be less anxious and not think about the wait.

Surprise and delight

How many times has a brand campaign caught you off guard? Are there some marketing techniques that seemed to have just faded away? Maybe because the customers were a little surprised.

There are three ways ads can surprise customers according to the Expectancy Violation Theory.

  • Interacting variables – stuff like sex, race, age, appearance, and socioeconomic status
  • Social norm variables – behavioral patterns, cultural norms, social norms, and biological influences
  • Environmental variables – proxemics, setting, time, surrounding

In the list above, social norms are the more applicable to digital signage and marketing and not likely to offend. After all, it is easy to map out someone’s behaviors and social norms and create captivating digital signage displays.

For instance, you could run your social media feed normally then suddenly create an interruption for an “important service announcement” message. By social norms, the audience should start thinking about the weather or some public emergency. Then, instead of sticking to social norms, why not announce the burger of the day. This would seem rather unconventional to the audience but without a doubt will not go unnoticed.

The A to Z technique

Domino’s pizza was so good at reducing their customers’ pain, and you can do so by using the A to Z technique to have more customers satisfied.

It is always best to get the customer at Z as soon as possible. If a customer walks into a store and wants to buy sunglasses, what can you do so they can find them faster? Probably show directions using digital signage. Tempt them with discount offers on various brands and the customer will walk out with the entire shop. They moved from A to Z as fast as they could.

Using anchoring to connect customers with your digital signs

Anchoring is another way to get more customers interested in your digital signage. It is the use of interactive media that also improves what they can identify and remember.

A good example is a presentation that welcomes customers to guess the price of a certain product. As the customers mull over the question, you sneak in some slides because you have their attention before falling back to the original media. In the end, if the revealed price is lower than what they customer had in mind, it’s a win-win. This specific strategy can be used in almost any situation to draw interest to a specific product on your shelf or menu.


Developing the best digital signage doesn’t require you to be a master in psychology. However, understanding how the human brain works can be the difference between win and loss. Knowing how the minds of your customers’ work can drive how you create digital signage to create appealing content.