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‘Own A Piece Of Internet History’ – Alex Tew, Digital Marketing At Its Best

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“My name is Alex Tew, I’m 21 years old and I live in a small town in Wiltshire, Alex StewEngland. I’ll be starting at University in England at the end of September, where I will be reading Business Management. University is not cheap, and faced with the prospect of graduating after 3 years with a huge debt, I thought I’d try and make some money….. $1m should do the trick! “

About milliondollarhomepage.com, and the mastermind behind it – Alex Tew:

Many new entrepreneurs need an overdraft when they start their business. Alex Tew was an exception. His ambition was to become a millionaire before he went to university so that he would not leave with huge debts. To achieve this, he needed to think of something that was easy to understand and set up, would attract lots of publicity and had a good name. The result was the Million Dollar Homepage – a website that consists of a million pixels arranged in a 1000 × 1000 pixel grid; the image-based links on it were sold for $1 per pixel in 10 × 10 blocks. The purchasers of these pixel blocks provided tiny images to be displayed on them, a URL to which the images were linked, and a slogan to be displayed when hovering a cursor over the link. The aim of the website was to sell all of the pixels in the image, thus generating a million dollars of income for the creator. The Wall Street Journal has commented that the site inspired other websites that sell pixels. Launched on 26 August 2005, the website became an Internet phenomenon.

milliondollarhomepage.com’s Business Objective:

Alex had this basic idea, the simplest a man could think of, one dollar per pixel per month for a million pixels on the homepage (I’m guessing you’ve done the math already). Alex paid only £50 for the domain name and a basic web hosting package, the only investment made to kick start a million dollars every month. Main objective was to attract maximum traffic of every kind, as the website had no target audience criteria and eventually convince potential buyers for leads. Massive approach, at the minimum cost possible.

Marketing Strategy adopted by milliondollarpage.com:

Alex followed ‘Word Of Mouth’ marketing strategy. The first blocks Alex sold to his brothers and some friends. When he had more than $1,000 he paid for a press release, which was spotted by the BBC. At this point the news had traveled across the Internet, as one person after another e-mailed to their friends, boasting about this cool website. This generated more interest from advertisers around the world– and the whole thing took off. Later he employed a press officer to help generate publicity and increase sales in the US. He also spent a week there, giving interviews. Four months later Alex auctioned his last block of pixels on eBay. His total earnings from the enterprise exceeded $1million (around (£545,000 at the time).

Results achieved by milliondollarhomepage.com:

The end resulted cited by Alex was very clear, a million dollar every month for an investment as low as approximately £50. No sooner did he auction his last pixels on eBay for a whooping $38,100, placed by MillionDollarWeightLoss.com, an online store selling diet-related products, than he fixed a monthly income of a million dollars. Its been a decade now since the site is very much live and running in full swing. Though a few recent studies prove 22% of the site being dead (non-functioning links) which accounts to 221,900 of the million pixels—$221,900 worth of real estate, assuming the pixels have kept their value in the last eight years.

Learnings for aspiring entrepreneurs:

What fascinates me most about the milliondollarhomepage.com, besides the obvious genius behind it, is that it’s a deep look into psychology, marketing, and constraints: money, color, placement, promotion, proximity, message, fonts, risk, gut, pictures vs. words, etc. You could study this for a day and learn more than you could in an entire college marketing class. There are now many copycat sites, but these are far less likely to be successful as Alex’s, simply because his was a ‘first’.

Image Credits: milliondollarhomepage.com

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