Quail Tech - A Look at the Numbers (Nov. 14, 2013)

Howdy. We've been running The Adventures of Captain Quail for four months and I've been wanting to talk about some of the tech that powers us for a while. This is the first of hopefully many posts on how we do what we do. Our grand hope is that other people, especially other online artists, will find this info useful.

Today I want to talk about the numbers. We keep track of everything we can think of on the site, and we're always trying to refine what data we collect and how we use it. (Disclaimer: we do use cookies and tracking software like Google Analytics, but only for internal use, and never with any personal data attached). One of the things we use Google Analytics to track is the number of people who visit our site. This helps us know what kind of audience we're reaching, and whether any advertising we do is effective. 

We've done two things different over the past month that really affected our numbers, and which we think are interesting enough to talk about. 1) We launched a Facebook ad campaign. 2) We started posting to Reddit. We've been posting to Facebook and Twitter for months, but never to Reddit before last week. Specifically, we posted to /r/comics and /r/webcomics.

Here's our total visits chart for the past month:


We don't have the greatest readership, currently, but we're still very new, and our monthly numbers are growing. 

Here's a look just at the numbers over the time we ran the Facebook ad campaign:


At the time, that Facebook campaign pushed us into higher numbers than we had ever seen. We're not made of money, unfortunately, so we had to let the campaign die, although we're planning to run more ad campaigns on Facebook in the future. 

If you look at the picture of the total numbers for the past month, and compare it to the Facebook ad numbers, you can probably guess what's coming next. On a whim last week, I posted Captain Quail 29 to /r/comics and /r/webcomics. I also posted Friday's and Tuesday's comic to those two subreddits on the days they came out. Here's those numbers:


Holy cow! Far and away the best days we've ever had on the site (Neglecting some weird traffic from Switzerland a month ago we're still trying to figure out). In what may be the most obvious statement of the past few years, it seems that posting to Reddit can really increase your page views. 

Of course, not all page views are created equal. The quality of web traffic is really difficult to measure, and there will be a future post on how we're defining 'good' traffic. What was most interesting to me about these numbers, however, was the corresponding geography. Here's the map of all our visitors, prior to posting to Reddit:


Here's the map after posting to Reddit:


We've got people from all over the world who have seen our comic. That. Is. So. Cool.

Of course, these are not equal comparisons, by any stretch. Our Facebook ad was targeted at the US, and Reddit is known for having visitors from all over the world. And, like I mentioned above, views from Reddit and views from Facebook may be apples and oranges. But for sheer reach, it seems like Reddit is a crazy-powerful network.

Interestingly enough, the hit numbers from Reddit are more disproportionate than I would've guessed to the participation numbers - that is, people who upvote or downvote. Here's the numbers on the votes the three comic postings have received:


We didn't pay for upvotes, obviously, and one of our comics even got more downvotes than upvotes. But that day's posting also resulted in the most hits!

This article isn't breaking any new ground, but I think its awesome to put some numbers behind the 'gut feeling' that you should always post your content to Reddit. If you also find this interesting, or think we did this all wrong, or just want to discuss this, leave a note in the comments below. If you're as crazy as we are, and want to explore what happens you apply modern tech startup practices to the world of digital art, send us an email: captainquail@inkpebble.com.

Thanks, and look for the next installment of Quail Tech!

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