The Jetsons set the standard of what the future could look like, billboards in space might be the next big thing.
The futuristic concept brings questions about cost that could deter advertisers but the turnaround profits could really change the game in marketing. A study conducted by Russians from the Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology (Skoltech) and the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology (MIPT) demonstrated that “As unrealistic as it may seem, we show that space advertising based on 50 or more small satellites flying in formation could be economically viable.”
What is the science behind space advertising?
The report suggested that the advertisement would appear as a constellation of bright artificial stars formed into an image that can be observed in clear night sky for several minutes. Similar to drone light shows that have been popular in events. The report also outlined that the development of these missions have actually become a point of interest for a few space start-ups as this approach provides a global Earth coverage allowing the advertisement to regions of high-demands multiple times. Imagine seeing an ad at the same time as everyone from a different country in the sky?
How can this work?
Costs for rocket launches have one down alongside low-cost CubeSats allowing space to be more accessible. CubeSats are mini satellites that are a cost effective platform that are used for technology demonstrations, advanced mission concepts like constellations. They are equipped with sun-reflecting sails as pixels which can be viewed from earth. The report takes into account the demographic of the audience suggesting that “the characteristics of the population parameters allows constructing a more realistic model of economic viability for advertising missions. Residents older than 15 years are considered to be the solvent audience.”
How much can space advertising make?
In the report, an example of a mission demonstrating images with magnitude of individual pixels will have the payback period of 33.7 days which means the formation will operate for 91.5 days. This accounts for the science in playing back light in space. The image can be performed 24 times which estimated a potential 24 contractors for the mission. The estimated net income in the report suggests about 111.6 million US dollars. But the cost in the advertisement is up to USD$65 highlighting that the ad will pay for itself and make $2 million of revenue everyday.