I’ve heard that banner advertising for board games tends not to be worth it, but that Board Game Geek offers one of the most effective banner advertising opportunities. Established board game companies are also at an advantage because of their track record, branding, and reputation. People like me are at a disadvantage because I am not known in the industry. This is my first game publication. One question is how effective banner advertising is, and another question is how good of a service Board Game Geek offers. I had some issues with the customer service.
Banner advertising on Board Game Geek costs a minimum of $500, and I spent an additional $300 to get some free advertising on the front page, which was actually much more effective than having advertising anywhere else on the website. I could have spent another $200 to feature the game on the front page and would have considered doing that, but I had issues with customer service. All this is out of pocket. I did not use Kickstarter funds for advertising costs.
I did not find banner advertising to be very effective, but it did seem to help the Kickstarter campaign for a week or so. Once I hit the last week of the campaign, the advertising seemed to be totally ineffective. I believe that the reason it was ineffective is because people gave up on my Kickstarter campaign and just thought it would fail. They didn’t feel like spending a moment to support the campaign would be worth their time. So, if you can make sure your campaign will be successful before paying for advertising, I think that would help a lot.
How good of a service Board Game Geek offers should at least take the following three things into consideration: customizability, valuable data, and customer service:
- Customizability — One question is how well you can customize your advertising and target customers who are likely to be interested in your product. Board Game Geek says you can target any countries you choose and advertise for a specified duration of time. I told them that I wanted to target the USA and I told them to only advertise while the Kickstarter campaign was active (June 16th to July 5th). I can’t confirm that they let me target the USA, but I assume they did what I asked. There are three sizes of banner ads and you can send them several banner ads of each size. You make them yourself and hope they will do well, and you can’t try any new ideas. If they don’t work well, too bad for you. You just lost your money. I’ve noticed how rarely anyone tries more than one banner ad on Board Game Geek. That is a huge mistake. They will use the most effective banner ads the most. You should try several ideas out and hope some of them will work well.
- Valuable data — One question is if you have any way to find out how many times people see each banner ad, and how many times they click on them. I got that data about a week after I started to advertise from Chad Krizan (the person in charge of advertising there). Then I never heard from him again, and I was not able to get any newer data.
- Customer service — One question is how reliable and helpful the customer service is. Chad responded quickly to some emails, and never responded to others. I asked him some questions and asked for some help on June 24th, June 26th, on June 28th, and on July 1st. He never responded to any of those emails, and it’s been over two and a half months since them. I also tried calling him and left a message. He didn’t return my call. I was not very impressed with the customer service. I talked to someone else who said he had a similar experience with having poor customer service.
On June 19th, I told Chad, “One thing that would help is to know which banner ads work best in three or four days. I can consider trying more banner ads after that based on the information I get.”
He quickly responded, “Sure thing, I can send a report once some good data is in place.” That was encouraging. He would let me try new ads out, right?
I got the data and I found out some of my banner ads were doing a lot worse than I would have liked. So, I spent several hours making new banner ads to try out. I sent an attachment of the banner ads to Chad. No response. I never heard from him again. He did not put the new banner ads up that I wanted to try out. He didn’t respond to emails or phone calls. I contacted Board Game Geek to find out what was going on. No response.
If I could have tried banner ads that I was happy with and proved effective, then I would have likely spent more money for more advertising. However, there was no point in trying to do that after Chad stopped responding to my emails.
John Wrot! wrote about banner advertising on Board Game Geek. He said:
Take the ad you have, make a new one for “Fully Funded!”; another for “Stretch Goals Unlocked”; another for “Final Week”; “Final Days”; “Final 48 Hours”; “LAST DAY”. They can be identical with that area of text changed. This will make you very happy in the final 48 hours when you don’t have to spend time fiddling with ads, when you’d rather update your stretch goals chart and respond to backers. When it’s time for the new ad to start running, email it to Chad at least 12 hours in advance and ask him to switch the old out for the new. He’s fast, pleasant, and does this all the time; so you don’t have to feel bad for asking.
Maybe Chad used to let people update their ads, or maybe he does it if he likes you enough. Maybe he went on vacation and had no one to replace him. I don’t know. John’s advice did not work out for me because Chad was not being cooperative for one reason or another. As far as I am concerned, there’s no excuse because he never gave me an excuse.
I would still consider advertising at Board Game Geek because it is probably still the best advertising you can hope for, but even Jamey (one of the most successful Kickstarter game designers) has said he was not very impressed in the past: “I must admit that I don’t think all that highly of banner ads. I rarely even notice them anymore.”