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Weblog Entry

Million Bucks

November 02, 2005

I’m fascinated with the Million Dollar Home Page. This guy got the idea to sell pixels for a dollar each, in blocks of a hundred, to get him through college. The advertisers get an ad spot for 5 years, and “a piece of internet history.” Silly and gimmicky, but that’s exactly why it worked, and to date he has pulled in an unbelievable half million dollars.

But, geez, the quality of advertisers sure does say a lot about the type of company that buys into high exposure, flash-in-the-pan marketing like this. Online casinos and pharmacies, marketing courses, and various bottom-rung web hosts and domain registrars: in other words, classic popup window and spam fodder. There must be a connection between the perceived value of running an ad on a site like this and the quality of the products being hawked.

Though you could probably learn quite a bit about effective web advertising by studying the various ads to see what techniques grab your attention, considering they’re all static images fighting only each other for eyeballs.


Alex says:
November 02, 11h

That can’t be true, can it?
MAN!

Realy nice!

chris says:
November 02, 11h

That really, really hurts my eyes.

November 02, 12h

It’s like spammer hell! Kinda like walking into a nightmare and seeing all the monsters hanging out together.

What I don’t get is: don’t these people realize how shallow, cheap, and degrading their marketing approach is?

trovster says:
November 02, 13h

I admire the guy for getting all the money. But I mean really? It’s pretty bad, and he says it’s spawned 500 odd copycats. I really don’t see why advertisers are drawn to this site, it’s not like it even had a presence to start off with. Stop feeding the links and the monstrasity will eventually whither away into obsecurity, where it belongs!

November 02, 13h

All it took was one news story on a slow day for the local broadcasters to pick this up and it completely took off. This has been around for quite some time.

November 02, 13h

I’m stunned… why didn’t I think of that first!?

anti says:
November 02, 15h

I bought one block about a week after Alex put up the page.
It gave me about 120 extra visitors every day.
By now that number is down to 50, but that’s still a lot.

We’ve even put up a group action at fundable (http://www.fundable.org/groupactions/pixels50x20).

Sam says:
November 02, 15h

I would be most interested to see what some of the click through ratios are like.

They are spending in excess of $1000 for something thats lost in the crowd. That said, that’s nothing for a few clicks these days.

nortypig says:
November 02, 16h

It was a unique idea no doubt but probably not an overly repeatable one - and like you pointed out our favourite spammers and banner ad guys are up there. They might get some value now but we won’t all look at it for the five years lol.

I’ve purposefully not been linking to it for some time.

Still, hey I wish I’d thought of it first… I need the cash…

Rob L. says:
November 02, 19h

I see a rel=”nofollow” in that link to MDHP at the top of your post, Dave… I guess you’re not quite fascinated enough to boost its standing, then? ;^)

November 02, 19h

You know, this is one of those headslappers that brings into sharp relief some of the more lizard-brained aspects of human nature; that being said, you can’t fault a guy for hitting the jackpot with this sorta bong-induced scheme, can you?

nortypig - it seems you are right about this being a one-off sharkjumper-the “million dollar women’s hompage” has not been nearly so prosperous to date.

What’d really be impressive is if it was all done with image replacement. :)

November 02, 20h

I can’t see anyone but spam and crap buying this, although a great idea by the creator. You have to admire those that come up with a cheap money maker the first time around. You could always just save some time and by my pixel once for $1,000,000

13
Tamra Dempsey says:
November 02, 22h

So here’s the funny and ironic thing about all this…

The “MillionDollarHomepage” is the way I found this site (I swear I have never been here before). I think it took me 5 random clicks to get here from some obscure “AbbreviationZ” site to “Amazon”, to the “css Zen Garden”, to here… No Lie. I was amaized when I saw the “Million Bucks” blog entry.

It truly is a small world and we are very intertwined. Six degrees of separation (or less) I’d say.

I wouldn’t be so quick to knock this whole thing. Randomness may not be so random - we all usually get to where we need to be in the end.

November 02, 23h

Crazy, yet it worked. Interesting that the one that jumps out at me is the simple grey “download movies” button.

Mind you, with a Google pagerank of 7, a few pixels currently buy you a fair bit of Google love.

November 03, 01h

What I find interesting ist the “TÜV” advert somewhere in the middle. TÜV is actually a serious company involved in product testing, safety and certification services.

Seems like they don’t know where they are advertising…

16
Microdot says:
November 03, 04h

This is pure commercialism. The Internet and mass-media publishing playing the masses. Anyone can make a buck this way, it is unethical though since this is poor advertising that blinds potential customers with Google Allmighty SEO.

November 03, 06h

If anything this is a pure example of how companies and most advertising consultants and agencies completely fail to understand the medium.

Although the ‘million dollar homepage’ has novelty value, that’s all it has - it’s not offering anything to the advertiser, and it’s another sign of the continual down-spiral of the online ad quality.

I’m continually amazed that clients are willing to pay thousands, even millions of pounds (GBP) on their design, branding and advertising, but when it comes to the web, with the exception of buying the space they seem happy to let a second rate design student free with a copy of paint shop ‘pro’ to “spearhead” their online campaigns.

18
Steve says:
November 03, 07h

I’m not buying it. I’m willing to bet that more than half the ‘ads’ up there he placed himself.

Benvolio says:
November 03, 16h

One of the companies I work for (World Nomads Travel Insurance) advertised on there early on in the piece merely to give the guy kudos for coming up with such a cracker of an idea.

We’ve had a lot of traffic, but (not surprisingly) only five sales. Not a great conversion rate - but a great idea nonetheless!

Trevor says:
November 03, 18h

Haaa! That’s funny, just about a month ago I got a query on IRC from this guy, he was asking me to help figure something out for placement. I helped a little but had to go. After he pasted me his link I almost fell off my chair thinking “what in the world is he going to do with this web site”. I guess it worked out well for him… Silly, Daft, but successful. Nice job.

Trevor

21
rich says:
November 04, 03h

Neil, I think they understand the medium just fine.

What they’re getting unless I’m very much mistaken (I can see there is something going on with the links - they’re not standard) is link love in Google. :-)

Bit of PageRank and alt texted keywords from a link on a site that’s going as viral as that one is worth the paltry sum of cash that’s being charged - if the links are recognised by Google.

Actual human click through’s are probably the icing on the cake really.

22
Microdot says:
November 04, 04h

#comment 2
He should donate the rest of the money to charity. People are starving everyday, one by one (and that is not pixelworthy IMHO)

But again companies that think Google rank plus this site to achieve more sales is the answer, I dont think so. I surely believe that any customer that finds a site with products they can buy, are not feeling that eager to buy, if they came from the zillion dollar site. It feels cheap maybe the design does not help too. The pixels are a give away but the companies that sell goods dont sell pixeldotmania but real goods, I think this shows poor advertesing strategy.

23
Microdot says:
November 04, 07h

#comment 3

Stu Nicholls is offering free advertsing space … for zero dollar you get 1825 pixels (75px by 25px), your site needs to be related to the world of CSS.

Go http://www.cssplay.co.uk/menu/zero_dollars.html
and grab yours.

24
theUg says:
November 04, 21h

Unethical? Unethical me arse! Hey, most of us envious that we passed such a good opportunity to make some free money, but some just being way too serious about it. Just give it up! C’mon, people! I mean, come on! %)

Yea, sure, novelty and all that. And I’m pretty sure that shall never work as a advertisement option in the future, barring the site in question. The pure simpleness and ingenuity is what strikes, and let it be that way.

By the way, it is a good lesson for all of us: keep it stupid, simple.

And as for commercialism, this page is nothing comparing with the profits some made during the age of exploration. Maggelan’s expedition, resulted in circumnavigating the world, cost four ships out of five and left only 18 men alive out of 277, claiming Magellan himself. But for all that, the profit from small cargo of spice they brought, amounted to over 10 000%. Now, that’s gellin’. ;)

Concidering the quality of ads on subject page, amongst all the crap there is gems. Like finding the ability to order Czech absinthe for delivery in US — that is worth a million bucks. Figura;;y speaking.

nic says:
November 09, 04h

Looks like the site has disappeared? All I get is a cPanel “There is no website configured at this address.” message… Has it died?

November 19, 09h

That was *so* hard to look at, with all those tiny, gaudy little GIFs, but the idea struck me as rather ingenious. I realize that guy is advertising some questionable websites but you have to give him credit for being creative about begging for money. I never would have thunk it… :)

Chris D. says:
December 01, 00h

I think the reason for the low quality of advertisers on the million-dollar-homepage is the fact that the campaign started in Europe, or in this case in England.

Europe is technically progressive (a lot of government-funded deep research beyond the quick-fix market mentality) but business-wise, or culturally more conservative. This means that the only ones to jump on to a quick rollercoaster ride like this are… But what the heck, everybody’s having a blast. Great idea and great execution!

That’s my take IMHO, Cheers - Chris