Digital Signage and the Framing Effect

Two glasses with the same water level on marked half full and the other half empty
Is it half-full or half-empty? The classic example of the framing effect.

The framing effect is one of the most important mental shortcuts humans use in making decisions. In fact, studies have shown that just about anyone can fall prey to this phenomenon. Tricky wording has even fooled U.S. intelligence agents into making irrational decisions!

In this article, we will discuss how you can improve your digital signage and make the framing effect work for your business.

What is the Framing Effect?

The framing effect refers to a psychological phenomenon that every human experience. It refers to the way we perceive things. One example of the framing effect is how the moon looks at different times of a single night.

When the moon is on the horizon, it looks huge. Once it has taken its place up in the sky, it looks small. Does the moon really change? No. It only appears to because of how it is framed on the horizon with trees and buildings giving the moon a relatable scale. When it floats in the sky with nothing around, there isn’t anything around to make its size relative.

Lucky for us, the framing effect influences almost every human choice. It is all about context. Once you change the way you present something, you can change the way people react to it.

Ways to use Digital Signage Framing Effect

Here are some ways you can use the framing effect in your everyday marketing.

Gain Framing

One way to enhance your digital signage is to gain framing. This is when you show or tell consumers how they will benefit from your product or service. Use words or images to make things sound positive. The key is to entice people.

Here are some examples:

  • Makeup companies use beautiful women with flawless faces to advertise their products. This gives the covert message that you will look young and blemish-free if you use their makeup. Put a nice face or body on anything, and it will be more successful.
  • If you are trying to sell something on your digital signage, include buzzwords catered to your audience. A great example of this is digital signage for alcohol. They focus on fun words instead of the negative aspects of drinking, such as hangovers or bad decisions.
  • Another good example of gain framing can be taken from the automotive industry. Their digital signage is pretty much all gain framing. A used car could be advertised as dependable. A Ford or Jeep could be described as rugged, even if most of them will never go outside a city.

The important factor about this type of framing is that it makes the customer feel like they can be that rich, beautiful person or go on those exciting adventures.

Loss Framing

This type of framing effect is best used when you want to make someone feel left out or afraid. Basically, the digital signage is saying if you don’t comply you will face the consequences. Negative framing works well if you are trying to sell a lifestyle product.

  • Take advantage of FOMO (fear of missing out). Make consumers feel as though they can’t live without your product, and if they do they will be incomplete. Retail environments heavily use this tactic with limited time sales. This also works well on digital signage for restaurants, bars, beauty products, and just about anything else!
  • Use words or images to show people how they could end up without your service. For example, dentists could use images of attractive people with bad teeth. If you wanted to push smoking cessation products, you could use words like cancer or voice box.

Statistical Framing

You can also promote your product and business on digital signage by using statistical framing. If you have a statistic, you can choose to put it in gain or loss framing terms. This depends on the message you want to send to your audience.

  • A gain framing effect would read something like, “Our product has been proven effective 90% of the time”. This works well when you are trying to talk someone into buying your product by showing how much it will help.
  • A loss framing effect would read, “Our product worked in all but 2% of the cases”. Even though you are showing something negative, 2% isn’t a bad failure rate. Many people would be willing to take a chance on your product as long as it has nothing to do with their safety.
  • You can also turn a loss framing effect on competitors. Even if their product works 9 times out of 10, it does not work in 1 out of 10 cases. Highlight this fact.

Play to Emotions

Neuroeconomics is a branch of economics that studies the effect of the brain on spending choices. Studies in this area have revealed something interesting that everyone should know about when marketing on digital signage.

When subjects were given 2 choices and asked to decide, the amygdala and the prefrontal cortex lit up. The amygdala controls emotions, and the prefrontal cortex controls rational decision-making.

The interesting part is that the amygdala was active in all participants, no matter their choice. This means everyone has to at least deal with the emotional before moving onto the rational. So, play to emotions! Some people will get caught up in your digital signage no matter what.


Gain framing, loss framing, and statistical framing are all ways you can improve your digital signage and reap the monetary gains. The best part is that any industry can use these simple psychological tricks to increase their business.

Using digital signage allows you to reach a greater amount of people with attention to keywords, images, and emotional cues. Remember, enlist the framing effect to play to emotions, and you will increase your consumer base.

Learn more about digital signage psychology and connect with us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and YouTube to get the latest info on marketing with digital signage!

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