Advertising your Tabletop Kickstarter on BoardGameGeek

posted in: kickstarter, kickstarter lesson | 1

This post is a follow-up to How to Advertise your Kickstarter

Advertising on BoardGameGeek for a tabletop Kickstarter project should come as no surprise.  If by some miracle, you’re reading this and don’t know what BoardGameGeek is then you’re not ready to launch a tabletop Kickstarter.  For this campaign, I tried out the often debated BGG contest along with the standard banner advertising and two homepage takeovers (one early in the campaign and one later in the campaign).  As mentioned in the previous post, BoardGameGeek’s average ROI for my project was 255% and the site directly brought in over $7k of Revenue. I’m going to breakdown this analysis into the two different ad services that I tried: banner ads and the week long contest.  I should also note that long before my Kickstarter began, I created a BGG game page for Maximum Apocalypse and had a devlog in their forums. I’m not sure if the devlog was really worth it, but I really just used it to cross-post from my own website and social media. Creating a BGG game page for your game on the other hand is absolutely essential!


BGG Banner Ads

Here are all ads that I designed and used for BoardGameGeek. They resulted in approximately a $0.19 CPC.

Let’s get all of the negatives of BoardGameGeek advertising out of the way.  It is an archaic system where you have to email them everything and they handle it for you.  That means that every new ad is a new email and any change in impressions/strategy is a new email, invoice etc.  The good news is that the folks there are responsive and handle things promptly.  What’s more annoying though is that once you shoot your ads over to them and pay the invoice, there is no system or dashboard to track performance at all.  They let you give them a Kickstarter URL with a reference code which you should ABSOLUTELY do so you can more easily see the results in your Kickstarter Dashboard. Otherwise, you have to rely on your own Google Analytics skills or simply trust that your ads look good and will get good CTR, impressions etc. Why they don’t use a system like BuySellAds or OpenX to handle all of this is beyond me.  That being said, if your game fits in with the BGG audience (more hardcore, minatures, euro, heavily themed games etc) there is absolutely no reason to not include their banner advertising in your Kickstarter strategy.


My Banner Advertising Strategy

BoardGameGeek is incredibly popular in our industry and the timing of any homepage takeovers is important.  Scheduling a takeover often needs to be done months in advance. The most important thing for me with this campaign was to make sure that people heard about the game.  I worked on it for over 2 years and wanted to drive a lot of traffic day 1 so I scheduled my BGG homepage takeover for day 2 (all their ads go midnight-midnight Central Time – another annoying and dated thing about their system). The campaign performed quite well out of the gate so I emailed them and doubled my impressions and told them that I would be up for another homepage takeover if anything opened up in my final week. For future campaigns, I plan on scheduling the homepage takeovers in the final week of the campaign rather than at the start for a couple of reasons:

  1. After this campaign, I’ll be bringing a larger crowd into any future projects on Day 1, so making a good initial splash is less important.
  2. As your campaign goes on and time dwindles, the incentive to buy goes up since there is more urgency and stretch goals make your project more enticing.

You can see the impact of banner advertising and specifically the homepage takeovers in the following graph

BGG banner ads
Red Arrows point to homepage takeover days

BGG Contest

Another part of my strategy was to schedule a BGG contest in the 2nd week of the campaign.  That way winners would be announced the 3rd week and anyone who saw the game and didn’t win would still have plenty of time to back the project.  Here’s the content for the contest entry page:

Rock Manor Games  is proud to present their 2nd board game, Maximum Apocalypse, currently on Kickstarter!

Maximum Apocalypse is a cooperative roguelike adventure game for 1-6 players. In Maximum Apocalypse, civilization has already fallen.  The players are survivors of the apocalypse whose mission is to survive the hostile landscape. Players will choose a unique survivor and deck and attempt to scavenge what they need to survive and complete objectives.

The questions in the contest below require that you visit the Kickstarter page or our BGG Listing to learn a little bit more about Maximum Apocalypse. Like the missions in the game, the questions get progressively harder as you go on.

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Grand Prize:

Everything included in the Maximum Brass pledge level (Maximum Apocalypse game, Brass Empire and all stretch goals) plus the Brass Empire Game Mat and original Brass Empire promo cards!

Runner-Up (4)

A copy of Maximum Apocalypse OR Brass Empire

The Good

BGG Contests drive a lot of traffic to your game page on BGG and forces people to actually read your Kickstarter page to answer your trivia questions. During the week of the contest, Maximum Apocalypse shot up into the hot list on their homepage sidebar.  Organic Traffic from BGG did increase during the week of the contest:

BGG contest
Red arrow points to the first day of contest


Remember the orange in the graph above represents the paid banner advertising, so the gap between the orange/blue is organic/untracked traffic.  As you can see the contest certainly amplified my traffic from BoardGameGeek. I think it’s safe to assume that I had an ROI of somewhere between 100-150% as a result of the contest.  It’s pretty huge getting into the BGG hotlist and you can see that the residual organic traffic gap lasted after the contest ended on 4/16.   I know from the conclusion of the contest that there were 3,119 unique participants so if you take into account the price of running the contest – that’s a $0.38 CPC which is much higher than my banner ads. That CPC is even higher when you add in your cost of supplying and shipping prizes.

The Bad

Contests don’t allow reference codes so I can’t graph the exact traffic sent from the contest pages which is incredibly frustrating.  BGG did mention to me that they hope to fix this in the future. There are also a lot of valid arguments that everyone who enters these contests is just looking for a free game and is not interested in backing anything. The big negative in my eyes though is the fact that the CPC is nearly double what you can achieve with nice looking banner ads.



As I’ve already mentioned, my BGG banner ads performed very well for this campaign (367% ROI) and I wholeheartedly recommend that you look into them if it makes sense for your game. Contests are pretty decent about growing your presence on BGG (more fans/followers of your game page/hot list presence) but don’t result in as much bang for your buck.  I’m not sure you can capitalize much on growing your followers/subscribers on BGG. It’s certainly not as good as growing them on traditional social networks like Facebook… but I also don’t agree with everyone out there that says BGG contests are a waste of money.  At the very worst they pay for themselves and at best for every $1 you spend you get $2.42+ worth of pledges from them.  Contests may not fit into your strategy but they shouldn’t be dismissed either.


Other things you can do on BGG to drive traffic:

  1. Patrick

    Wow, amazing information! I was unsure how to approach advertising on BBG but this answers so many questions, thank you!

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