Friday, February 3, 2017

Finding the True Trends of an Active Kickstarter via Kicktraq

You ever look at Kicktraq? It has interesting stats and projections about currently funding Kickstarter projects. Now, as I'm sure you've heard elsewhere, number can lie. That is not true. They can, however, mislead. Its all in the presentation.

Lets look at The Ultimate Apocalyptic Planet - 77 Worlds RPG James M Ward Kickstarter, because its a prime example of how numbers can mislead.

Looks pretty healthy, right? I mean, numbers don't lie and even the low end of the projection is well above funding.

Hey, what is that "Mini Chart" tab?

Wow. Now these are numbers that tell a story. Notice the little dip from Tuesday to Wednesday? That was the loss of a backer at 70 bucks and one gained the next day for 30 bucks. So, between Tuesday and Thursday, there is a net loss of 40 bucks. Doesn't look to be trending towards goal, let alone thousands more.

So, why is the first chart deceptive? Simple, its front heavy with the backing raised from the first two days.

The trend is downward. Project creators like to show off the Cone Projection (first chart) and ignore the rest, but digging deeper is where the numbers start telling their true story.

I mention my issues with this project on a previous post. My suggestion? Cancel the project, spend a few weeks tightening the Kickstarter pitch (which is horrid) and relaunch after Valentines Day when money might free up for folks. But hey, what do I know? It might actually fund. If it does, it won't be by much (and will probably need a ghost backer or three to get there). There is no harm in admitting you need a better pitch, presentation and system explanation.


  1. I find that the projection cone that Kicktraq uses is appallingly overoptimistic at the start of a campaign, but is usually quite accurate later on in it. (Hey, more data points results in more accurate predictions - whaddya know?) It isn't useful for guessing whether a project will fund early on, but it is useful for assessing about a week or so before the deadline whether the project has a shot of funding, or whether it has a chance to hit particular stretch goals.

    That said, the typical profile of a Kickstarter is well known by now - big boom of funding at the beginning, plateau in the middle, sudden burst at the end. You'd think that by now Kicktraq ought to have enough data that they could refine their model somewhat - at the very least, their prediction system should be able to assess when the plateau has kicked in and give an educated guess as to when the late-campaign boom will take effect, which would make early predictions much more useful.

    There's probably also some interesting work to be done in analysing the particular parts of that profile, too. For instance, in the case of this one, the plateau period seems to be doing especially bad - typically a sign that a project owner is either not putting the work in to promote the Kickstarter and give quality, exciting updates, or they are and they just suck at it. Compare it to, say, the MST3K revival Kickstarter (Kicktraq stats here: https://www.kicktraq.com/projects/mst3k/bringbackmst3k), where the plateau had an honest to goodness gradient to it because:

    a) Joel Hodgson is a real master at talking to Kickstarter backers, addressing their thoughts, providing substantive updates and making you feel included (honestly, anyone doing a Kickstarter should study the MST3K one to see how Joel handles it);
    b) the fanbase did their own part through word of mouth;
    c) because of the economics of the way making TV shows works (once you have the equipment and sets and so forth in to make your first episode, it's suddenly much cheaper to make subsequent episodes using the same kit), the value of each reward tier went up as the Kickstarter progressed and more episodes were funded, so there was encouragement for existing backers to up their pledge and for people who were on the fence to pile in once it seemed worth it;
    d) it's friggin' MST3K, of course it funded well.

    Those are two extremes, but there's probably a lot to be learned from looking at which Kickstarters manage to maintain a gradient on the plateau phase and which have a dead flat plateau (or, even worse, a downward gradient).

  2. and it lost another $55 overnight


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