Since Alex Tew achieved his goal of selling 1,000,000 pixels for as many dollars, more than 10,000 copy-cat pixel advertising sites have sprung up from the wells of various corners of the web, all with different themes and offering different incentives to advertisers, but ultimately offering the same thing.
Like many of the most enterprising success stories, the concept of “The Million Dollar Homepage” is extremely simple: a twenty-two year old University student decided to, in order to pay for his education, set up a website and “sell” front page space in the form of image pixels which linked to the advertiser’s web space, limiting the number to one million. What is so remarkable is not just the fact that he sold the entire lot, but the time period in which he achieved this. In just three months Tew has gone from an anonymous student in debt to a millionaire celebrity with a waiting list for international primetime interviewers that most of Hollywood would be envious of. The degree of professionalism that Tew demonstrated in undertaking this project was quite remarkable too: from garnering the initial publicity to independently soliciting a fully-fledged New York PR consultant to hiring a team of website coordinators to manage the sudden uptake in volume of purchases (pixel images need to be uploaded – not an easy feat when there are backlogs in the hundreds of thousands) and visitors, Tew demonstrated management sophistication that is remarkable by any comparison.
What “The Million Dollar Homepage” demonstrates above all, however, is how little the technology boom of the turn of the millennium has actually subsided. The very fact that in three months sophisticated corporate advertisers are willing to part with more than a million dollars to grab space on the front page of an erstwhile student’s homepage echoes ruminations of the days when “.com” was the end of every large corporation name. What is more startling is the number of these 'copycat' Million Dollar Homepages that have actually gone on to become successful business models in themselves: not content to have missed the 'link-rush' first time round, corporations are now blowing cash on the front pages of imitation sites.
For some time a groundswell has been developing in the form of online ads. From Google Adwords to pay-by-click, revenues in this disruptive trend have been on a consistently wild increase.