Can you predict a project's chance of success, based on its funding level at any point during the campaign?
That's the question I've been trying to answer for the past few months. It makes sense that if a campaign reaches 90% funding on Day 1, it's basically in the bag to succeed. But what about 10% by Day 1, or 20% by Day 3? Is there any way to make an accurate prediction of that campaign's success?
I don't think it's much a stretch to say "Yes, you can predict a campaign's success based on it's current funding level." In fact, it's probably one of the easiest and most obvious predictions to make, but I'd still be interested in seeing what they actually are.
Predicting success by current funding
Well, after several months of collecting, cleaning, and analyzing Kickstarter campaign data, I can safely say that we can, indeed, predict success based on a campaign's current funding level... but we still don't have enough data.
Although initial results have been promising, my true goal is to have a table that Kickstarter creators can go to look up what day their campaign is on and what funding level they're currently at, and the table will show them a general prediction of their success. Of course, that creates a lot of table cells, which means we'll need a lot of data before it becomes reasonably accurate.
Unfortunately, we're not there yet, but I'm very excited to show it to you once it is ready!
Comparing the first and last campaign days
With the prediction table not being ready yet, I started thinking about other ways to analyze that we may have enough data for now. Other things like whether or not there's a relationship between how well your launch day goes compared to how well your campaign's last day goes. I was hoping they would be fairly well correlated, but as it turns, they're not even close...
Here's a scatter plot of launch day performance vs last day performance for 2020 campaigns that were 30 days long. To try cleaning this up a bit, I filtered out extreme cases (campaigns in the bottom or top 5%). As you can see, the filtering didn't help much - it's still a mess!
Just to drive this point home a little more, lets zoom in a bit, by limiting the x-axis range to match the y-axis. There really is no correlation there!
I did notice one thing about the first graph, however. The fact that the y-axis (last day performance) goes from -20% to 120% while the x-axis goes from 0-710% seems interesting. What that at least suggests to me is that a Kickstarter campaign's launch day is probably more important (i.e. you get more funding) than the last day.
To be honest, it's not all that surprising that your launch day is likely more important than your last day, but what the above also shows is that we may have enough data now to quantify how much more important it is.
Well, it may not be anything special, but here is a chart comparing Kickstarter campaign's funding levels for their first day vs their last day.
This chart includes all campaigns that started and finished year-to-date 2020 that were 30 days long and did not cancel earlier than 12 hours before the scheduled end of campaign. Altogether, that included almost 3000 campaigns. I limited to only 30-day campaigns because it stands to reason that the length of your campaign could easily influence the relationship between your launch day and last day.
As for how to actually read the chart, it's a standard box plot - although it may not look like it. If you look at the box on the left, you'll see it has a shaded box region, a line in the middle of the box, and a "whisker" on top. The bottom and top of the box are the 25th and 75th percentiles, respectively. The line in the middle of the box is the 50th percentile, otherwise known as the median. The top of the whisker is the 90th percentile. These points tell you how many campaigns were at that funding level or lower by the end of their first day.
The box plot for the last day reads the same way, except that it's been smooshed even more. For that one, the median is just above 0%, and the 75th percentile is around 7% funding.
There are bottom whisker on these plots as well, but they're so short you can't even see them.
What this shows us, as the graphic states, is that your Kickstarter campaign's first day will likely see much more funding than your last day does. How much more? Expect maybe somewhere around 2x more funding on your first day than you'll get on your last day, although the variability there is quite high.