How We Use Psychology in Digital Advertising

People use psychology to excite and engage others every day. With the internet being cluttered with billions of websites and advertisements, your digital marketing strategy needs to integrate the psychology of consumer behavior to do the same. Reaching deep into the minds and hearts of consumers is essential to producing the advertising results your brand desires. Understanding how the brain works and implementing this knowledge into your advertising campaigns allows consumers to be psychologically and socially triggered into connecting with your brand and product. Let’s discuss some psychological techniques that are vital to improving your digital advertising game.



Emotional advertising appeals to the consumer by focusing on tone, mood, and story rather than rational advertising, where the approach is to display the usefulness and quality of a product and is more logistic focused. Although both are employed in various advertising campaigns, consumers base their buying decisions on their feelings and emotions. Appealing to a consumer’s emotions in an advertisement means creating content that can:

  • Inspire or excite the consumer
  • Spark engagement
  • Instill trust between the consumer and brand
  • Remind the consumer of special moments

For example, here at New Target, we helped the Scholarship Fund of Alexandria inspire potential donors by having the homepage of their website display “Scholarships Change Lives Forever.”


Social proof is a famous concept of human behavior that is one of the most relevant techniques for influencing consumers. People love to follow the behaviors of others, even if they don’t even realize they’re doing it. As humans, we have the tendency to imitate the actions of people we look up to or trust, which is why influencer advertising has become increasingly popular and can prove to be very beneficial to your digital advertising strategy. Not only do people just copy celebrities or other influencers, but they also adopt beliefs and actions of what they see everyone else doing. If a social media post has tons of shares and likes, you are more likely to share or like. Implementing share buttons and social plugins to your website design and other aspects of your advertising strategy is a great way to reach a larger audience.


The Paradox of Choice theory is an important one to consider in your digital advertising strategy; people love freedom of choice, but too many can cause consumer anxiety and can reduce their desire to purchase. Providing consumers with options but keeping them limited or providing the illusion that they are limited (i.e., only displaying a low number of products at one time) can ease consumer stress and positively impact your sales. The decoy effect is another concept to keep in mind when evaluating choice and pricing options. Many strategies utilize this technique by offering products that are priced differently with the intention of only selling one. For example, when you are buying an online subscription and the yearlong one is double the value but not that much more expensive than the six-month option, you are more than likely going to choose the yearlong version.


As humans, when we make one decision, we use that when making other related decisions or choices. This is very relevant in digital marketing because when a consumer makes a small commitment to your company, they are more likely to make a bigger one in the future. Asking small things from your consumer upfront, such as asking to subscribe to a newsletter or asking for contact details, provides a great segue for a consumer to become more involved and make bigger commitments in the future, potentially in the form of a purchase or membership subscription. Decisions are hard and plentiful, but our brains allow us to use one decision to catapult the others, so taking advantage of the commitment and consistency theory in your digital marketing strategy can be an effective way to pull in consumers and convert them into your customers.


Are you going to do something for someone you don’t like? The answer is probably no, and the same goes for consumers when making purchasing decisions—if they don’t like you or your brand, they aren’t going to buy from you. Appealing to the liking principle, which is the idea that we are more likely to be persuaded by people we like, is vital to the success of your brand. If your brand and advertisements aren’t likable, they won’t be successful. The main factors that influence likability are:

Physical attractiveness – Whether it be the model in your advertisement or the design and functionality of your website, it has to be attractive. Don’t worry, we can help you with this.

Similarity – People tend to like other people or things that look like them, have similar beliefs, opinions, or backgrounds. Establishing the right brand that allows consumers to relate to you is crucial!

Compliments – People love to be complimented and they appreciate the people who give them. Your digital presence can give a voice to your brand to express your gratitude toward your customers through your website or social platforms.

Association – You need to associate your brand to something or someone that your customers support

It’s always emphasized that brands should understand their audience. Going deeper to understand how their brain works and using that knowledge to appeal to them can make your brand and advertisements stand out more to create lasting customers. Implementing the psychological techniques, we’ve discussed into your digital web strategy will create content that is bound to leave a lasting impression on consumers, even if they don’t realize it!

A global team of digerati with offices in Washington, D.C. and Southern California, we provide digital marketing, web design, and creative for brands you know and nonprofits you love.

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