Updated Kickstarter Advertising ROIs based on the Gothic Horrors Campaign

posted in: kickstarter, kickstarter lesson | 4

This is a follow-up post to my post last year about how to advertise your Kickstarter.  If you haven’t read that post already, I cover a lot about advertising a tabletop Kickstarter so you really should start there or much of this may not make sense.

My recent Kickstarter expansion broke $230k making it the most funded game in the Philadelphia area with a marketing budget of only $5,400. Just a reminder that there are no shortcuts to Kickstarter success.  A lot of this success is related to the success of my previous games and continually building a customer and fan base over several years. Advertising is a way to amplify your project but can be a huge waste  money if your project or game isn’t ready.  This blog is a follow-up analysis of which websites to buy advertising on and the ROI received from these different services. Let’s start by comparing the ROI from my campaign last year on these services to my ROI this year:

  Advertising Change 2017-2018
2017 Revenue 2018 Revenue Change 2017 ROI 2018 ROI Change
Facebook  $       3,906.00  $       3,890.00  $           (16.00) 282% 258% -24%
Reddit  $           689  $       1,068.00  $             379 1627% 100% -1527%
BGG  $       6,915.00  $       6,186.00  $        (729.00) 367% 163% -204%


The data above was compiled using Kickstarter’s referral tags, Google Analytics and the metrics from the advertising platforms metrics dashboard.

So that’s a bummer right?

It is. You never want to see across the board negative changes…but I do think there are valid explanations for all 3 of these negative changes across platforms:

  1. Facebook: Last year, I had a friend who worked in marketing and FB advertising manage all of the advertising for me.  He was traveling in Japan this time around and while I still had his demographics that he set up, I was not that diligent about updating and experimenting with as many ad types as he did (I did 1 super successful ad which kept this ROI a lot closer than it should have been but more on that in another post).  That being said, the overall revenue/spend/ROI were very similar.  The 24% decline may also be a result of Facebook’s current privacy troubles in the news as well.
  2. Reddit: Last year, reddit’s new ad platform had literally just launched so I could’ve just exploited and hit it at the right time. I also think that I bid very low on clicks last time which reduced my spend/reach. The sample size may have just been too small last time.  This is actually the most troubling change because it takes one of my most successful platforms from last year down to one of the worst.  I feel like it goes to show you how hard and fickle marketing and advertising can be.
  3. BGG: BoardGameGeek recently changed it’s ad packages so instead of getting a full homepage takeover – you split it with one other banner for that day.  Obviously this cuts your impressions/clicks in half for those homepage days and could easily account for the ROI changes in the table above.

You have to trust that marketing and advertising work

Big companies like Coca-Cola and McDonald’s still spend millions a year in advertising even though we’ve all heard of their products.  Some of the biggest tech companies and stocks (Google, Facebook) are glorified advertising companies.  You always have to have a little faith when it comes to spending cash on advertising because even online tracking and referral links aren’t necessarily catching all of the pledges that your advertising is bringing in – so when in doubt just try to fathom why these huge companies are spending what they do in advertising and marketing.


Keep in mind, we’re analyzing only a fraction of that 14% via custom referrers slice…the revenue that we can directly attribute to advertising makes up only 45% of that blue slice or 6.3% of the total project. You also need to trust that Kickstarter takes credit for every pledge they can after the fact or dumps it into external referrers.  Basically unless your ad drives someone to back your project right then during that visit from the advertisement – Kickstarter’s backend may credit them somewhere else in the pledging.

Worst case scenario for every $1 I spent in advertising I received $2.64 in pledges.  That is certainly worse than my campaign last year where that number was about $3.75.  I say worst case because i believe that there are more $$ in pledges that were not attributed to the Kickstarter custom tag I assigned.  Again, you just have to have a little faith that advertising and ongoing marketing works.  Despite these numbers being worse this time around, my overall campaign raised almost $100k more than last time with almost exactly the same ad spend.

Hopefully the data above will give any Kickstarter creator a great start with some updated metrics on advertising.



4 Responses

  1. Andrew L.

    Why would you attribute your campaign raising so much more than last time? Was it your e-mail list and social networks?

    • mike

      Obviously the fact that my game was well received and built on my existing fanbase helped a lot. I’ve also proven myself as someone that can deliver a Kickstarter so that all helps.

  2. John Harrison

    An interesting read. Thanks for the breakdown!

    Have you noticed a particular style of ad brings in more backers? I know you mentioned earlier that you had someone managing the FB ad’s last year but not this, so I was curious as to if there was something particular they did which you feel benefited you better than your own efforts?

    Thanks again!


    • mike

      Yeah I have some other blog posts planned that will go into this in more detail about why it helps to have someone running your marketing/ads.

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