What are the similarities between a mission to Mars and a programmatic approach to marketing?

Below, I’ve outlined three key lessons from the mission that can be applied to marketing.

Don’t let data analytics become an alien concept: Combine it with automation for the heavy lifting

NASA wanted to determine which missions had the highest likelihood of success. While planning we found that there were some 30 billion possible ways to execute a human mission to Mars. To narrow these down we used technology, developed at MIT, to automatically filter and prioritise design decisions according to the main objectives. 

So how does this relate to marketing? Well, due to the recent data explosion, marketers are also faced with hundreds of small, tactical decisions. A recent IBM study found that social media, the proliferation of smart devices and fluid consumer demographics have left CMOs feeling that their organisations are unprepared to take advantage of all this customer data. Why? Because they are unable to cut through the data noise and develop actionable insights, in time for decision-making.

Marketers should therefore use advanced data analytics and technology platforms, as we used them for the Mars mission, to automate decisions, and do the heavy lifting. This can help marketing teams vastly improve speed of time to market. In fact, they can launch a whole global campaign, in a day, if they should choose to.

Mapping missions: Using the tactical to feed the strategic

To map out the Mars mission according to priorities we did not only look at strategic decisions – we had to learn the interrelation between these strategies so that we could optimize our mission planning. Similarly, marketers should create an upfront plan using data from their campaigns to feed back into strategy and planning.

Programmatic enables this. When used, it monitors and assesses information about different audience reactions to individual messaging and campaign goals; feeding back the interrelated data on which tactics are providing the optimal ROI. This data then directly guides both live marketing campaign actions, such as RTB, and future strategy decisions.

Making fuel on Mars:  Evolving technology optimises materials and drives future campaigns

In space exploration, nothing stays the same. New data and technologies can revolutionise designs for missions. When astronauts went to the moon, all of the equipment they used was launched from earth. When we looked at the Mars mission, we had to use new technology to lower exploration costs. To meet this budgetary objective, we needed to save take-off weight, so we proposed to build a fuel manufacturing facility on Mars –turning the planet’s soil into fuel for the return journey.

Much like Mars’ soil, big data is essentially unusable by itself. Programmatic marketing provides marketers with tools that enable them turn it into a useful resource. Technologies that were only applied to the most difficult problems in the Mars Mission – such as machine learning, and graph theory modeling – are now being applied daily to the science of marketing.

Programmatic marketing clearly has a vital role to play if implemented across digital campaigns. It can alter, shape, and define your entire digital strategy and sky rocket your ROI.