POM: Extraction of visual information to predict crowdfunding success

October 2, 2023

Researchers have increasingly turned to crowdfunding platforms to gain insights into entrepreneurial activity and dynamics. While previous studies have explored various factors influencing crowdfunding success, such as technology, communication, and marketing strategies, the role of visual elements that can be automatically extracted from images has received less attention. This is surprising, considering that crowdfunding platforms emphasize the importance of attention-grabbing and high-resolution images, and previous research has shown that image characteristics can significantly impact product evaluations. Indeed, a comprehensive review of empirical articles (n = 202) that utilized Kickstarter data, focusing on the incorporation of visual information in their analyses. Our findings reveal that only 29.70% controlled for the number of images, and less than 12% considered any image details.

In this manuscript, we contribute to the existing literature by emphasizing the significance of visual characteristics as essential variables in empirical investigations of crowdfunding success. We review the literature on image processing and its relevance to the business domain, highlighting two types of visual variables: visual counts (number of pictures and number of videos) and image details. Building upon previous work that discussed the role of color, composition and figure-ground relationships, we introduce visual scene elements that have not yet been explored in crowdfunding, including the number of faces, the number of concepts depicted, and the ease of identifying those concepts.

To demonstrate the predictive value of visual counts and image details, we analyze Kickstarter data using flexible machine learning models (Lasso, Ridge, Bayesian Additive Regression Trees, and XGBoost). Our results highlight that visual count features are two of the top three predictors of success and highlight the ease at which researchers can incorporate some information about visual information. Our results also show that simple image detail features such as color matter a lot, and our proposed measures of visual scene elements can also be useful. By supplementing our article with R and Python codes that help authors extract image details (, we hope to stimulate scholars in various disciplines to consider visual information data in their empirical research and enhance the impact of visual cues on crowdfunding success.


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