A Guide to Psychology and Capturing an Audience


Let’s talk psychology, shall we? Don’t worry we won’t go too deeply into detail because in today’s world we don’t have the time to ingest all the information we’re exposed to. If we did that our heads would definitely explode, not to mention we’d never get anything done. People don’t have time to see every message until the end to learn it. So how do we trick an audience to observe your message long enough for you to tell them the awesome truth?



There are a few elements that play important roles in human perception. Curiosity is the main bait you can use. For now let’s talk about the more technical elements which can be used in digital signage.

Intensity of the message gives a higher chance that it will be perceived. For example if I were to shout at you whilst talking about my day at work, there’s a pretty good chance you’ll remember what I’m saying. This also applies for visual intensity.

Movement also increases a chance for something to be noticed, this is why many companies cling to video as their advertisement. It’s not just that they have a larger canvas to display their message, it’s simply more memorable and easier to notice. You’ve undoubtedly seen logos of certain stores just flashing about, and it certainly has left a print on your memory. Green flashing pharmacy logo anyone?

Contrast plays another vital role. However, people often immediately think of color when contrast is mentioned. Yes, you want your content to be visible by making sure the text is different from the background. Yet the contrast between elements, like image and text is also important. If you supersize every element and make everything gleaming in color your message will come off as cheap and irritating, no matter how amazing it truly is. Then there’s also the contrast of digital signage in general.

Say you have an advertisement with a big flashy screen. It’s hardly going to make an impact if your screen is located in a busy street where there’s a dozen other flashy screens. In such an example, you’d benefit more by simply having a still image, because unlike the rest of the „canvas“ the viewer is seeing your image is standing out by being still. Your message may be limited to a screen, but the viewer’s attention is not.

Psychology of color is also an interesting matter. For example warm colors (red, orange, yellow) are known for their stimulation of the appetite. This is a trick some restaurants use. Have you been to McDonalds lately? You can use color psychology to design digital signage messages. It may not be the most powerful trick but it’s a definite plus.

An advertisement is a lesson

From a strictly technical point of view in advertising, a viewer absorbs information about something and uses it afterwards, be it to obtain a product or service, or complain about it to their coworkers. As long as the information is used, it is knowledge material.

How do people learn?

There are many ways and aspects of learning but they all follow a general pattern. Something is observed, remembered and recreated. So you need to make sure your message is seen, remembered, and your information used. This is why most digital signage messages contain a call for action telling the viewer what to do after gaining the knowledge.

„Call the number on the screen! Visit us!“ or my favorite „SUBSCRIBE!“ Which is quite interesting because most YouTubers will tell you politely to subscribe to their channel but I think the greatest impact in my memory was a YouTuber who only shouted the word in maximum volume at the end of each video, (see 3rd paragraph of this article).

Learning is a constant process that never stops, this is why we form biases and judge prematurely. Here’s an interesting read on biases in marketing that should be taken into account when creating anything that is to be presented to the public eye.

Marketing has relied on psychology for quite some time now, and in 2002 the term neuromarketing was forged to title a field in marketing research that studies how consumers perceive marketing stimuli.

Stand out! Aah!


There are rules that must be followed when constructing a message. Proper contrast, font, size and placement, but a drop of creativity can hold infinite power. Don’t be afraid to take a risk. In reality the worst thing you can do in advertisement is to lie, minus breaking the law. Everything else is forgivable no matter how bad things go.

Curiosity killed the cat, which is also a tool you may use in digital signage, not just for eliminating cats. There is a difference between giving someone an incomplete message and a confusing one. For example if I were to tell you that the saying about curiosity killing the cat doesn’t actually mean what you think it does, you’d be left puzzled and perhaps interested in learning what it truly meant.

Curiosity can be a tricky tool. Often audiences are left in confusion and the entire plan falls to ruin if it’s not used properly. Still it is an effective tool, but it relies heavily on the wit, creativity and knowledge of the creator. Are you up to it?

Images used by Bùi Linh Ngân and Steven Depolo

Like our content? Subscribe to our Newsletter

Previous articleNew Feature: Fallback Campaigns
Next articleNew Feature: Campaigns On Demand
Aks has been a writer in the digital signage world for over 5 years, bringing you the best of cases and news this industry has to show. Thoughts or suggestions on topics you'd like to see? Drop him an email at aks@onsign.tv.