Wednesday, January 25, 2006

How to make a quick million using PR and creating pixel marketing in the process

All of us (with the exception of the well-heeled among us) could do with $1 Million, correct?
Many of us come up with concepts and ideas that unfortunately need (serious) funding.
All those great ideas are often shelved – it would just take too long, require too much time and money.
Once in a while, there is a bright person who comes up with a quick, low cost way of making a cool million - legally.
One of those persons is the enterprising British student Alex Tew.
He came up with the idea to create a homepage ( and turn it into a billboard, made up of a million pixels.
He then divided the screen into 10,000 small squares of 100 pixels each, and sold them for $ 1 a pixel to anyone who wanted to put up their logo.
He was able to sell a few to family and friends for a total of $ 1,000, but not to anyone outside of his circle of acquaintances.

So how did your reach his target audience?
Since word of mouth would not generate more business, Tew sent a press release to national newspapers such as The Daily Telegraph, The Guardian, and The Sun.

Due to the unique angle (the most expensive website in the world) it was quickly picked up by the news media (Reuters, ABC, CNN) around the world.
It also spread around the Internet; many a blog mentioned the website as well.

As a result, advertisers for everything from dating sites, to casinos, to real estate agents, to The Times of London were putting up real cash for pixels, with links to their own sites.
Advertisers discovered that they were receiving actual valuable Web hits for a fraction of the cost of traditional Internet advertising.

One example is, an Arizona-based company that helps clients’ websites to appear at the top of worldwide search engines.
They bought 6,400 pixels as soon as they heard about the Million Dollar Homepage.
As they put it:
It was ingenious.
It’s easy to make money on the Internet, but it is very difficult to have a unique idea, and this one was.
We immediately knew that this website was going to attract huge numbers of visitors so we bought pixels there and then.
The results for us were amazing.
We used to get 40,000 visitors a day to our site — that’s now up to 60,000.

By the end of 2005, Tew had sold 999,000 pixels and demand outstripped supply for the last thousand.
Giddy prospective buyers pushed him to open a second page, but Tew had pledged to close the page when his goal of one million dollars was reached in order to protect its originality.
Tew auctioned off the last 1,000 pixels on eBay for a whopping $160,109.09.
He donated part of it to The Prince's Trust, a U.K. charity for youth that once helped him.

What are the key success factors?

  • Originality
  • Clever marketing
  • PR
Tew also started a new trend: pixel marketing.
There are now charity sites; sites devoted to erotica; straightforward financial sites - all using pixels to raise funds.
While none of these seem to have replicated Tew's success -but the sheer volume of attempts and creativity behind it, takes pixel marketing seriously indeed.
Time will tell how it will catch on and we will know what works, and what doesn't.

Ironically enough, Tew did raise enough funds to finance his study (the reason he started the website in the first place) but since he has been bombarded with job offers and has been caught up in managing his site, he decided to drop out for now.

A classic example of victim of his own success?

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