In this article, I share my insights from analyzing 414 crypto airdrops. I wanted to find out if you can make money from airdrops.
Quick explainer: In a crypto airdrop, the project team sends coins, tokens, or NFTs to wallets to promote them. Many users participate to get free cryptocurrencies.
As always, please note that this is not an academic study.
I used this dataset: https://coinmarketcap.com/airdrop/
At the time of this analysis, there were 414 crypto airdrops from 2021 and 2022. To complete the analysis, I also used historical and current price data on crypto projects from Coinmarketcap and Coingecko.
Crypto Airdrop Participants & Winners
In general, the chance of winning was quite small for most projects. In fact, only 39 out of 414 projects offered a winning chance of more than 10%. A winning chance of over 100% came about if the maximum limit of permitted wallets was not reached.
The following chart visualizes the number of participants and winners for each individual airdrop in absolute values.
We gain some interesting insights when the airdrops are divided into NFTs and non-NFTs.
Non-NFT Crypto Aidrops
The average number of participants: 1.17M
The median number of participants: 247K
The average number of winners: 7K
The median number of winners: 2K
Average winning chance ~ 8%
The average number of participants: 3.24M
The median number of participants: 273K
The average number of winners: 5.6K
The median number of winners: 1K
Average winning chance ~ 2%
To summarize: those who took part in airdrops for NFTs had a significantly lower chance of winning on average.
Alright, but can you actually become rich by participating in crypto airdrops?
Let’s find out!
Are Crypto Airdrops Worth It?
If we take the total number of coins or tokens airdropped divided by the number of winners times the price of the coins or tokens, we know the value of an airdrop on a given day.
For the following calculations, I used a sample of the 414 crypto airdrops.
The above Boxplot chart shows the following information (I removed some outliers to make the chart more readable):
Value on the last day of a crypto airdrop phase
For this, I checked the price for about 90 randomly chosen airdrops on the last day of their airdrop phase, so there is a marginal error of a few percent.
The average value of an airdrop: $33
Median value: $9.55
Value at the peak
Most airdrops reached a point where their price was significantly higher than the price on the last day of the airdrop phase. When this peak occurred depended on various factors such as awareness and popularity or the general market situation.
The average value of airdrop: $86
Median value: $16.9
Value November 2022
I also checked the prices current at the time of writing this study as of early November 2022.
The average value of an airdrop: $5
Median value: $0.8
There are a few things to unpack here. In general, the price performance of crypto airdrops follows a well-known pattern: most crypto projects see a price increase (300% on average) after the airdrop has ended followed by a sustained fall in prices (-74% on average).
In concrete numbers, your average crypto airdrop would have netted you $33 on the last day of the airdrop phase while peaking at $86 but would only be worth $5 as of now.
There are also some extreme outliers. In a few cases, you would have made several hundred dollars, while some airdrops were only worth a few cents.
During my analysis, I also encountered some unexpected results.
The more people took part in an airdrop (this does not mean the winners, only the participants), the better the value of the airdrop held up over time (medium correlation). I assume that the high number of participants is an indicator of the great interest in the project and thus this has a positive effect on the future price development of the project.
I take the following conclusions from my analysis:
- You need a lot of luck to win at a crypto airdrop — in order to increase your chances of winning, you should participate in as many as possible.
- NFT airdrops offer a significantly lower chance of winning.
- The average airdrop is worth a few US dollars. While there are a few outliers, the general rule is that if you really want to make money from it, you should take part in a lot of airdrops.
- Most airdrops reach a higher price peak after the end of the airdrop phase. However, catching it is difficult.
- If you miss the optimal time to sell, your airdrop will become less and less valuable over time — so sell early.
- If a large number of people take part in an airdrop, this can be a sign that the project will perform well in the future.