The Art and Science of Persuasion: Not All Crowdfunding Campaign Videos Are The Same


Crowdfunding-a practice for raising funds from people online by advertising project ideas-has gained immense popularity among new entrepreneurs. For example, Kickstarter, the largest online crowdfunding platform to date, successfully funded 110,270 projects by raising 2.21 billion dollars from more than 11 million backers. Although there have been many successfully funded campaigns, on average, only 35.34% of projects on Kickstarter successfully reach their target goal. The low success rate has inspired the research community to explore campaign features that can increase the likelihood of success. For example, research has shown that campaign duration, funding goal, descriptive phrases, updates, and the number of social media shares are related to the outcome of the campaigns.

One of the most important, and perhaps least explored, elements of a crowdfunding campaign is the campaign video. Because of its storytelling power, a video is a powerful communication channel for connecting emotionally with the audience. The power of video seems equally strong in crowdfunding, as research has found that the mere presence of a video positively influenced donors to pledge their money for a campaign. However, there is still a lack of systematic studies on how elements of campaign videos affect potential backers' perception of the projects, and to what extent the perception of those elements predicts the campaign's success. The current study aims to fill this gap by providing a better understanding of the impact of specific features of campaign videos in different project categories, such that project creators can create more effective campaign videos.

The figure shows the product and video related factors. We used these factors to analyze campaign videos in our study.

Our Approach

We adopt the theoretical framework that assumes that potential backers have two paths to process various persuasive cues that impact their perception of the campaign videos: a top-down path and a bottom-up path. A top-down path is influenced by backers' expectation of the main product promoted by the campaign, and a bottom-up path is influenced by the information communicated by the content and various features of the video. To study the impact of the top-down path, we chose to study 210 campaigns from three project categories (Technology, Fashion, and Design), as donors tend to have different expectations of the product in each of these categories. To study the impact of the bottom-up path, we designed a survey to measure how potential backers perceive different features of the video (e.g., video quality). These features were selected based on the Elaboration Likelihood Model and the literature on effective advertising. We recruited 3,150 workers from Amazon Mechanical Turk (MTurk) to evaluate the campaign videos. We conducted a mixed-methods study involving a concurrent qualitative and quantitative analysis.


1: In their open-ended responses, MTurk workers primarily focused on the utility and relevance of the product in the technology category. In the design and fashion categories, the presenter in the video and the quality of the audio and video were the main focus. This finding is consistent with the idea that separate top-down category expectations guide backers' attention to different aspects of the videos.

2: The perceived quality of the campaign videos was a stronger predictor of the success for campaigns in the design and fashion categories, but the perceived quality of the products was a stronger predictor in the technology category. This finding is consistent with the idea that cues (e.g. audio quality) change in importance and diagnosticity depending upon the category.

3: The perceived complexity of the product has different effects on project success in different campaign categories. Specifically, in the technology category, campaigns perceived to have lower complexity were more likely to be successful; but the effect was reversed in the design and fashion categories. This finding has important implications for creating more effective campaign videos for diverse project categories.


Sanorita Dey, Brittany Duff, Karrie Karahalios, Wai-Tat Fu. The Art and Science of Persuasion: Not All Crowdfunding Campaign Videos Are The Same, CSCW 2017. pdf


Sanorita Dey