What Digital Marketers Can Learn from NASA

As digital marketers we’re trained for ROI. Our entire business model is built off of providing a bigger benefit to our clients than it costs them to hire us.

If we can’t measure it, we don’t do it, and we certainly don’t recommend it to our clients.

Similarly, if we don’t have solid proprietary and secondary data that a given digital tactic will work, we won’t employ that tactic. After all, we can’t learn at our clients’ expense.

The Mars mission reminds us that in hard times, ROI isn’t always the last measure of performance, and to invent the future you must accept no case studies exist today.

Sometimes, when the upside is so great, the risk of failure is worth the expense.


There’s no history for Mars exploration. We have no evidence that spending 2.5 billion dollars in a time of economic hardship will pay dividends. But the folks at NASA push forward because they believe their work will benefit you and I in ways we can’t conceptualize right now.

It’s easy to play it safe behind analytics, clickthrough rates, studies and conversions. It’s harder to put your reputation on the line to trail blaze, especially when everyone is in “survival mode”.