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Everything you need to know about the Million Dollar Homepage
The Million Dollar Homepage developed by Alex Tew is a website that raised more than one million dollars in gross revenue in less than six months. The website was conceived by Alex Tew when he was twenty years old and studying in Wiltshire, England, just before he was about to enroll at the University of Nottingham for its business management course. Tew knew he had to take up a student loan that would have taken several years to repay, thereby setting him back for a considerable period of time at the prime of his youth. He came up with the idea to raise money to fund his education. He registered the domain www.milliondollarhomepage.com and hosted it with a million pixels up for sale. He spent fifty pounds to set it all up and chose to sell blocks of hundred pixels at a time since one pixel would have been too small and hence almost unnoticeable on the webpage.
The website was launched on the 26th of August, 2005, and the first blocks of pixels were bought by his friend, who operated a music website. The friend purchased four hundred blocks. His family and friends chipped in over the next fortnight and purchased almost five thousand pixels. Companies and individuals buying the pixels could put up their logo or an image, any advertisement or a hyperlink to redirect traffic to their official website. Most people who bought the pixels opted to have their logo, offers, and hyperlinks on the pixels. The Million Dollar Homepage turned out to be a phenomenon. It recorded unprecedented traffic for such a site. The site itself was unique owing to the originality of the idea. There had been nothing even remotely similar till then. Of course, there have been many similar initiatives in the last thirteen years, trying to emulate its impact and success.
Alex Tew had stated on the record in 2006 that he knew the idea had potential but he was also aware of the possibility of the whole initiative going either way. It was possible no one would have been interested in such a quaint initiative. The fact that it took Tew less than six months to sell all the pixels speaks volumes of the power of the internet and it is something that every digital marketing agency or professional can learn from. The last blocks of pixels were put up for sale at an auction on eBay. The final sales were executed on the 11th of January in 2006. The website had reached a peak rank of 127, as assigned by Alexa on the basis of web traffic. Since then the rank has obviously slipped by several thousand.
The Million Dollar Homepage has been the target of distributed denial of service attack and it was during an auction in 2006. An extortion attempt was also made, leading the FBI and the local Wiltshire Constabulary to launch an investigation. The attack did not kill the site and reportedly there was no ransom paid. Today, there are links on the site that don’t work, owing to what is called a link rot. The website also clearly states that all pixels have been sold out. Innumerable images, messages, ads, and hyperlinks are still on the site.
The Million Dollar Homepage was clearly a success and it was at a time when crowdfunding was not even a popular term, set aside the fact that it is now a common practice. In more ways than one, the website was unique and revolutionary. It has had a ripple effect in digital marketing. Researchers and students from around the world, including Harvard University, have studied the phenomenon over the years. However, the websites that sell pixels today, emulating the original concept, are not faring too well. Truly pioneering initiatives are a different story.