Space ads – your best and worst online space adverts reviewed

By Martin / / Lockheed Martin, NanoRacks, Orbital ATK / No Comments

With a lot of business at stake in the space, satellite and defense industries and some prestigious brand reputations on the line, conventional wisdom would have it that advertising throughout the space sector would be high quality and highly competitive – surprisingly this is not always the case.

Space related ads enjoy highly visible placements on a range of space news sites that get tens of thousands of views per day. These sites include spaceref.com, spacedaily.com, nasawatch.com, spaceflightnow.com, thespacereview.com, nasaspaceflight.com, spaceflightinsider.com and others. Most of them spend a fair bit of effort attracting the advertising revenue that keeps them online.

But it is clear that the majority of the organizations advertising on these sites are leaving a fair amount of money on the table when it comes to garnering the increased awareness, news coverage and even sales they are trying to attract.

I mean, where else could you see advertisements from well-known brands that forget to mention what it is they are advertising? Where else could you see ads for events that have already happened? And what other billion-dollar industries have members (that claim attention to detail is essential) who are happy to pay for adverts that promote services that are no longer even on offer?

That’s right, space related ads cover a variety of products and services, promoting huge spacecraft manufacturing giants to Amazon books by former NASA staffers. However only 30 or so individual ads take all the advertising real estate on the vast majority of space news websites. And because of this low competition for ad space, it is not a surprise that ads range from those that are professionally designed with cleverly worded propositions to ads that have been cobbled together in a way will never generate the clicks they were intended to generate.

Ok, so you don’t need to be a madman advertiser or need to run a groundbreaking ad campaign to get your message out there, but your space organization’s advertisement does still need to make sense. Those of us with a marketing background will be sure to keep the AIDA checklist in mind – which helps us word compelling ads by:

  • Grabbing people’s Attention
  • Keeping them Interested
  • Creating strong Desire
  • Calling them to Action

Failing this, simply remembering to focus on objectives and including the relevant what, why, who, where or when details are a good rule of thumb for those who are unsure what to put in their ad. Especially for those who feel that just having a graphics guy include an image of the brand logo will do the job of promoting your brand.

Conventional wisdom says #space #advertising is high quality & highly competitive - Not so Click To Tweet

Space Advertising Stats

Below you can see a selection of the ads that have been scooped up from the previously mentioned space news websites between April and July of 2017. But first, here is a summary of the findings:

90% of online space ads don't list a product, its benefits and a call to action Click To Tweet
82% of online space ads are over 300 pixels wide (the average website column) Click To Tweet
50% of online space ads advertise space related products for the general public Click To Tweet
33% of online space ads advertise forthcoming aerospace conferences and events Click To Tweet
30% of online space ads don't even mention what product or service is being advertised Click To Tweet
16% of online space ads just show a company logo or a brand name and nothing else Click To Tweet

Space Service Providers

Lockheed Martin

Spacecraft designers and manufacturing giants such as Lockheed Martin have all the expertise and experienced marketers and designers they need, not only to get them out of tight PR spots, but also to maintain a strong brand that is recognised and trusted around the world.

Unlike Boeing, the ULA, Masten or other large firms, the organization advertises their brand even when there is nothing particular the firm wants to to market or sell on their site at http://www.lockheedmartin.com.

Orbital ATK

Intent on keeping their brand in the mind of us in space industry, the nicely designed ads that click through to the www.orbitalatk.com homepage work well to inform us they are a major player in the industry and a partner we can count on.

Nicely designed using the brand colors and logo, these online ads enjoy graphics that remind us of their capabilities. There is good use of spacing and the wording helps reinforce their positioning as a leading force in the space industry. These are really nicely designed ads that do their job well to encourage viewers to click throug.

NanoRacks

Lacking a compelling call to action or indeed a clickable proposition that encourages potential customers to click the ad, this animated image ad relies on space news site visitor curiosity in order to see what is on offer on at www.nanoracks.com.

Conferences and Events

Space Tech Expo

This simple but effective static image ad links right to the main page at www.spacetechexpo.com and does a good job of matching the brand’s colours and styles as well as providing all the right information in a easy to read way. As one of the better space conference ads seen on space sites, they have done well to simply remind people of the event and invite the click through.

Private Space Science

Despite the font size being far too small for easy viewing for the majority of space industry veterans, this add that links to the www.privatespacescience2017.com site does the job quite well with graphics, logos and the relevant info. Though it is plane to see that the ad was designed to be displayed in a much larger format and nobody thought to resize the elements to work well in a narrow website sidebar. Shame because its a good ad, if you can read it.

AIAA Forum

With this static image ad the AIAA space forum have done well to inform and encourage visitors of space news websites about their annual event. Linking though to https://space.aiaa.org the graphic ad is nicely designed and not only provides info about the who, when and where of the event but also makes space to include a quotation from Larry D James of NASA JPL. Illustrating that it’s worth adding social proof if you have room.

With good use of logos on a contrasting background and all the info visitors need to see in order to decide if the event is in a location they can visit, the ad is one of the better ones created for an annual space industry event. It’s got to be said also that the site this links through to is nicely designed, informative and easy to navigate. A job well done and a good experience for those clicking through.

MilSsat USA

Bold and easy to read, in white and yellow text on a black graphic of a military satellite trained on, urr, the USA, this UK based conference ad was obviously created by the SMI agency that is happy to mention itself before their client in the ad.

On clicking though, rather than visiting the advertised domain, one is redirected to a landing page hosted on the SMI site at http://www.smi-online.co.uk/defence/uk/global-milsatcom. Either an oversight or a change in plan that didn’t get fully implemented.

MilSatCom USA

Similar to the above. this nicely designed conference advert links through to a page on the SMI website. But spot the same mistake again… They have had to redirect the ad MilSatCom-USA.Com domain in the ad to the UK based event production company’s site.

Likely due to the USA site not being ready in time, or not existing, they chose to stick with the erroneous ad text rather than make the quick change in design. We must just assume the client is happy with the error and pay more attention to detail when it comes to making military satellites.

Again, nicely designed with all the info needed to encourage click through from space news sites, but again the agency is keen to sneak a free mention of SMI at the client’s expense. Cheeky to say the least.

Military Satellite IQPC

Name, logo, date, location and a small graphic. Everything that is needed in order to inform then encourage visitors to click through to http://www.militarysatellite.com, via this small static image ad. Again, a nicely designed, simple ad that does the job intended.

Explore Mars Summit

With a nicely made, but generic looking templated one-page site visible at www.exploremars.org, the advertisement for the summit nicely reflects the site’s branding and marketing message.

Furthermore, the ad provides all the required information needed to encourage visitors to click through and is a good way to grab the relevant sections of the space community that are most interested in sending Humans to Mars by the 2030s. The only improvement that could be made to this ad is that the text describing the event location is far too small to read. This is usually the case because graphics guys have huge screens, unlike the rest of us.

ICAS Space

The static ad that informs space news website visitors about the International Conference on Environmental Systems in Charleston, South Carolina links right to their homepage at www.ices.space. By including branded background imagery, the event’s name, location, timings and the url of the site, the ad has everything it needs to inform the space community of the event.

Interestingly, although the homepage of the site does well to inform visitors about what they can expect from the conference, it does seem to be broken, due to the huge area of white space beneath the main content. Either way, the ad works well to pull people towards the site.

Cryogenics Workshop

This ad that clicks through to Space Cryogenics Workshop contains everything visitors need to know in order to decide to click through, apart from mentioning that the workshop is being held in McDonald’s Campus in Oak Brook, Illinois.

Aero Montreal

Again, a professionally designed animated image ad that contains all the information needed for visitors of space news websites to click through to see what is on offer at this year’s event at https://www.aeromontreal.ca/.

Space Organizations

Space Florida

Hmm, this ad for www.spaceflorida.gov is an example of your money being wasted due to some manager saying “we need an ad so people visit our site”. However, nobody thought to add a proposition a deal or even any mention of what they are trying to advertise. Seems obvious but they won’t be getting many clicks from the monthly investment, that’s for sure.

NASA Federal Credit Union

I hope this cheeky ad and branding for NASA Federal Credit Union isn’t breaking copyright laws for using the STAR TREK logo or bends NASA’s strict rules by using the old “worm” logo without express permission. However the ad and loyalty rewards system being marketed here seem to be “too professional” to have been developed by a space company, and are likely the work of an external agency (who won’t be the ones paying up if the union gets sued). Damned good ad though.

LaunchSpace

The chaps at www.launchspace.com have done well with the limited space available in their ad. It contains their logo, a main benefit of using their training programs and a call to action. Everything a visitor needs to know to decide if it’s worth clicking on.

We Report Space

As www.wereportspace.com claim on their website, visitors can “Get an insider’s look at the current state of the US Space Program, go behind the scenes at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station”. However, nobody would be able to tell that from the ad.

Unlike the majority of events or conference ads – who enjoy designers that remember to mention what it is that is on offer, this ad expects visitors to click through in order to find out more. Which generally isn’t the way it works. Shame because their insight into the industry seems highly valuable and entertaining.

Space Tec

The image ad that www.spacetec.us are investing in to pull potential customers consists of only their logo. This is an example of an ad that just can’t do its job. Despite the ongoing investment of having it displayed on space industry sites.

Because there is no indication of what they do, how they do it or why we should engage with them to give them our attention or money, the ad is typical of those that were born from a manager saying “we need an ad with our logo on it” and all thought ending right there.

AeroStem Consulting

Not too much wrong with the image ad used by http://www.aerostem.net/ to pull potential customers to their site from relevant audiences on the main space news websites. The Ad contains the name (which is a good indicator of what they do) and a logo.
However the tagline in the ad cannot be read due to it being too small and the landing page of the site is broken due to huge swathes of white-space and lack of content. Despite it being so bleak, you can actually tell just as much about what services they offer from their name as from the broken site.

Novotech Load Cells

Novatech have done well to pack lots of information in to their ad, which directs visitors to their homepage at www.novatechloadcells.co.uk. With such a small space to work in. this animated advertisement includes their logo and name, their strapline, images of the products and 4 slides that mention their services, there benefits and credibility points relating to the product’s strengths in harsh environments.

The UK company have a long history of providing load cells to the aerospace and space industry around the world and as their site explains, “Novatech has been manufacturing loadcells since 1972. We offer the latest analytical techniques and a flexible approach to loadcell design. Our factory has total in-house design, manufacturing and calibration capabilities. All of our resources are dedicated to product integrity”. Fortunately though, they never tried to squeeze all that into their ad too.

Space Consumer Products

Photo Space

Ouch, Photo Space have really missed the mark with this ad that seems to be trying to hard to be clever. Can you tell what is on offer? Is there enough excitement that hooks you and tells you that this is just what you need? Probably not.

Anyways, for the record, they offer a great service at a great price – spoiler alert: “Sign up today and send your pictures into outer space!” (a detail that should be visible in all of their online advertising). Read about it at www.photostospace.com.

RealSpace Models

Despite the badly designed ad and logo, and the fact that there is no real marketing message incorporated in the campaign, the RealSpace image ad does it’s job of getting in front of potential customers and letting them know that models are for sale at www.realspacemodels.com.

With the option of using animated ads that give the advertiser lots more space to get their message across, RealSpace missed a trick by not using the AIDA checklist – to attract Attention, get people Interested, create Desire and call potential customers to Action (with their advertisement and marketing copy).

Launch Space Domains

By working with domain registrars and buying up heaps of .space top level domains (TLDs), ie website domain names that finish with the word space after the period – Launch space are interested in tempting new space brands to buy a domain name from them.

Despite the word space after the period making no difference to the performance of the site or its rankings in the search engines, they do look cool. They also provide an opportunity for those starting new spaceflight, aerospace, astronomy or other space related projects with a non-dot-com domain name that has not been snapped up already.

The animated ad explains all of this by showing examples and they describe the proposition more fully at their landing page at www.launch.space.

Humanity’s Salvation Book

In another advertising campaign that sends traffic to the product page for a book for sale on Amazon. Author Joe Weichman bemoans the fact that many people care more about celebrity gossip than what may lie beyond our planet.

In Space Exploration: Humanity’s Salvation, he challenges readers to reignite their interest in space travel. By getting infront of the eyes of those in and interested in the space industry Joe’s online advertising campaign not only increases the chances of selling lots of books but also ensures lots of people are exposed to his work – visible at https://www.amazon.com/Space-Exploration/

space exploration

STEM Toys

This ad for educational toys related to STEM projects is an example of a Google Display Network (GDN) ad. So rather than contacting the space news website team to agree a deal for their advertising campaign, the owners of these Amazon products simply created an ad in Google Adwords and ticked a box to say that they wanted to bid on ad space in aerospace, science or spaceflight related sites.

Linking to the Amazon landing page that lists the Stem Picks collection, this ad is a great example of using nice graphics and typefaces – which is often overlooked by other small brand ad designers that tend to create home-made looking cheap and nasty graphics.

Astronomy Patches

Rather than advertise their magazine at www.astronomynow.com, the publication is investing in graphic display advertisements on space sites for a range of mission patches for sale. According to the Royal Astronomical Society, Astronomy Now is the “principal amateur astronomy magazine in Britain” with a reputed circulation of 24,000.

The magazine features articles ranging from how to observe the night sky to the latest discoveries in the Solar System and in deep space. To find out more about the patches and their prices you will have to delve into the site.

To Orbit and Back Again

Www.amazon.com-Orbit-Back-Again is the Amazon store product page that visitors land on when clicking the ad for this book by Davide Sivolell. With a sub-title of “How the Space Shuttle Flew in Space”, the book promises enable readers to understand its technical systems in greater depth than they have been able to do so before.

Despite the ad being small, it serves the product well and because the ad is an online adverisement the author will likely only incur costs when people actually click on the ad. That means that all the unclicked ad views is free coverage.

Flight Sim App

This small animated ad often gets lost amongst all the bigger advertisements that surround it on space news websites, however its small size and the fact that it is animated illustrates a relatively cheap way to tell those interested in spaceflight to discover the flight simulation app on offer. See better graphics and info about the app at www.f-sim.com.

Space Walk App

Linking to the product page on iTunes appstore (https://itunes.apple.com/app/astronaut-spacewalk-hd/id670493388), this little ad doesn’t really do justice to the app that allows players to take their own walk in space. A recent review states “Wonderful little game to give me that spacewalk fix. For the price, get this may not have too much longevity once you get the hang of it, but you’ll love mastering the controls”. Difficult to say lots in such a small space, so it does its job well of encouraging clicks by describing the product in different animated frames.

Curiosity Steam

curiosity stream space documentary advertCuriosityStream is a global ad-free subscription video on demand service. It exclusively delivers nonfiction documentaries and series about science, technology, history and nature.

The ad they have on display on a number of space news websites promotes the Next World documentary with Michio Kaku. By including their logo, a pic of Michio, the product name and tagline the ad works really well. Better still, the ad design also incorporates a call to action button that offers something for free – always a winning move when it comes to enticing visitors into clicking through to find out more. See how they take you further down the sales funnel on their landing page at http://www.curiositystream.com.

Final Thoughts

Martin Wilson Space Marketing Expert AdSo there we have it, 30 or so ads by organizations that believe advertising on the most popular space news websites will generate increased brand awareness or make more sales for their products, services or events. For the record, here is the ad I use when I need to get word out about my space sector marketing services.

As expected some of these ads are good, some bad and some ugly. Despite it only costing the less experienced marketers and graphics guys 3 minutes to Google “advertising best practices” or other such phrases, it seems that the big guys in the industry enjoy the most successful campaigns due to their better informed tactics.

Want to know where the best places are to advertise your space, aerospace, satellite or spaceflight brand? Watch this space and sign up to email updates as a full study of the space based sites that allow advertising, along with figures of the numbers of visitors each gets, is in the pipe-line.

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