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The Almighty Buck The Internet

Cash Pours in for Student with $1 Million Web Idea 527

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the pet-rocks dept.
Quantum Logic writes "Alex Tew, a 21-year-old student from a small town in England, earned a cool million dollars in four months on the Internet. Selling porn? Dealing prescription drugs? Nope. All he sells are pixels. The idea: turn his home page into a billboard made up of a million dots, and sell them for a dollar a dot to anyone who wants to put up their logo. A 10 by 10 dot square, roughly the size of a letter of type, costs $100. He sold a few to his brothers and some friends, and when he had made $1,000, he issued a press release. That was picked up by the news media, spread around the Internet, and soon 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."
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Cash Pours in for Student with $1 Million Web Idea

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  • by east coast (590680) on Friday December 30, 2005 @01:15AM (#14363027)
    I think it's a neat idea. How many people are going to scan the page looking at all the various images? You know you have looked at it longer than you've looked at any online ad for a long time.
  • Brilliant (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 30, 2005 @01:16AM (#14363031)
    The psychological effect on looking at that pages makes me WANT to click. Does anyone else feel like that after seeing the page?
  • by matr0x_x (919985) on Friday December 30, 2005 @01:22AM (#14363058) Homepage
    OK - I see all these people asking "why the heck would someone pay to advertise on that?" I paid for an advertisement to my http://www.mac-poker.net/ [mac-poker.net]Mac Poker site early on - and it brought in TONS of traffic. Mind you the traffic was "silly traffic" (aka it was not targetted and most of it was "browsers" clicking a random pixel) but it was still worth it. Now, I got in at about 80K when the site was still hot hot hot. After about 200K there were two many pixels to click and my clicks went down, and after 500K the sites traffic dropped drastically.
  • by TubeSteak (669689) on Friday December 30, 2005 @01:28AM (#14363079) Journal
    It's so simple...

    that someone else copied the idea
    www.mymilliondollaradpage.com/

    And advertised for it on the orignal guy's site.
    Is that sneaky or what?
  • Page Rank (Score:4, Interesting)

    by hagrin (896731) on Friday December 30, 2005 @01:35AM (#14363103) Homepage Journal
    What I don't understand is why anyone would pay for advertising here. According to my Google Toolbar in FireFox, the site has a PR of 0. I actually considered buying an incoming link for a dollar since it could have been worth getting alink from a PR 5 or higher site, but it has basically no linked value.

    Maybe after all this press though, we'll see the page's PR go up and then make it highly worth it to buy a 1 dollar block just to get a link on that page.
  • I call hoax (Score:5, Interesting)

    by RajivSLK (398494) on Friday December 30, 2005 @01:54AM (#14363162)
    Alex Tew, a 21-year-old student from a small town in England, earned a cool million dollars in four months on the Internet.

    I don't believe it. There is no verification that anyone actually paid him anything. I think it's all an ingenious hoax to get the news media (who are known for not verifying anything) to run this story around the world. A stunt to drive traffic to his site and try to earn some money. Ingenious really.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 30, 2005 @01:59AM (#14363183)
    There's some similarity to this [scripophily.net]
    The "Klondike Big Inch" was a promotional campaign by Quaker Harvest Oats in the 1950's. The deeds, for one square inch of Yukon land, were included in cereal boxes. Although it was a very successful marketing enterprise, the deeds were strictly promotional and never entitled holders to any actual land.
    Also see ownapieceofamerica dot com.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 30, 2005 @02:03AM (#14363201)
    On Google you can get targeted traffic for roughly $0.20/click.
    This site gets untargeted traffic - let's value it at $0.05/click.
    Paying $1 million implies 20M clicks from the main page to the ads.
    Let's assume that a visitor curiously clicks on 2 ads.
    That works out to 10M visitors.
    Anyone know how many visitors it's gotten so far?
  • by Urusai (865560) on Friday December 30, 2005 @02:19AM (#14363250)
    Other bright ideas:

    - Beg for money on your website (with a handy PayPal link)
    - Sell square inches of lunar real estate
    - Sell naming rights to various stars in the galaxy
    - Sell prayers (or better yet, indulgences)
    - Sell "homeopathic" remedies (tap water)
    - Start a "blog" (really a BBS), charge subscriptions for people to entertain themselves
    - Make lots of toast, sell on Ebay as "Virgin Mary and/or Jesus and/or Elvis Toast"
    - Declare yourself an independent country and sell people citizenship
    - Pose as an ousted Nigerian dignitary, promise people a cut of your ill gotten gains, take their money and run (possibly illegal in some jurisdictions)
    - Make a bunch of finger paintings, fake your own death, sell your work as high art
    - Make some lame Flash cartoons, create an Internet meme ("Badger..", "Trogdor...", etc), sell T-shirts
    - Create a blog, sift through a couple of common sites and "aggregate" articles, then post to other people's blogs citing your blog as a news source
    - Threaten to kill some cute animal if people don't buy something from you
    - Stop bathing, acquire some army-surplus accoutrement, stand on street corners looking dazed with a cup in your hand
    - Do something stupid, get humiliated on national TV, do the talk show circuit, become a regular guest on some low-budget game show
    - Get a job. But only if you're desperate.
  • Re:I call hoax (Score:2, Interesting)

    by aebrett (788049) on Friday December 30, 2005 @02:58AM (#14363347) Homepage
    As a friend of Alex' brother, I was initially sceptical of the idea behind this venture, but having followed the site since the fairly early days, and based on his brother's reactions as the whole thing has progressed it doesn't come across as a hoax to me. Looking at the "Press" page on that site, it's generated an unbelievable amount of coverage in the media, so it doesn't seem unreasonable that individual companies would pay a one-off fee to piggyback off some of that media interest. Sure, interest in the site will die away over the next few months, but unlike traditional advertising, in which fees are charged on a periodic basis, once the upfront sum has been paid, there are no more costs involved with advertising on the site.

    In common with many others here, I think it says something very odd about the way we view the media that a site like this has become such a success, but don't knock a guy for having an original idea ;)
  • by MikeFM (12491) on Friday December 30, 2005 @03:39AM (#14363448) Homepage Journal
    Once again proving that it isn't how smart you are or how hard you work but who you know. It sounds like he got his start by knowing friends and family that could pour a little money into his idea and help get him started. THAT is what is needed more than a really clever idea.

    Not saying that this kid isn't smart but just that this doesn't really prove anything. It's more luck and connections working in his favor. Charging per pixel is a reasonable idea but is it really so much better than any other pricing scheme?

    If you're smart then worry less about school and your job and more about meeting people in other areas of influence - business, marketing, finance, etc. With those kinds of people your ideas will be able to take seed and make you and them money. A little work if your family doesn't come from money but still very possible.
  • Even better idea (Score:3, Interesting)

    by RedLaggedTeut (216304) on Friday December 30, 2005 @03:56AM (#14363483) Homepage Journal
    - sell your signature space on slashdot for advertisments

    Any takers? :-)
  • Re:I call hoax (Score:4, Interesting)

    by trollable (928694) on Friday December 30, 2005 @04:29AM (#14363550) Homepage
    I don't know where you found your numbers but anyway they are not appropriate. What counts is the number of licks (As an advertiser, the number of visitors going to your website). And precisely, the cost-per-click. Now, you can check all the ways to advertise and compare. On Google Adwords, it is difficult to go under $0.07. On AdBrite and for english websites, $0.05 seems the minimum. So if you pay your ad $100, it means a minimum of 5,000 visitors. Now, there is also the "quality" of the visitors: how targeted they are. AdWords brings you targeted visitors (visitors potentialy interested by your website), the MDHP doesn't. All in all, this is definitively not a hoax. And I think that for the earlier advertisers, it was a very good deal.
  • by Drakonite (523948) on Friday December 30, 2005 @05:43AM (#14363702) Homepage
    Buses are great and all, but if they always run less than a quarter full, they're actually less efficient than cars (because they are so much bigger).

    The only way public transit would work in the US would be if people stopped moving out of cities and started moving back. Good public transit requires that kind of clumpiness.

    I assure you the town I live in is plenty 'clumpy' enough to support a good public transit system, however I doubt any of the bus routes here have more than a quarter full for more than a couple hours a day. It's not that people aren't here to support it, but because everyone seems to be taught to treat public transit like a disease they want nothing to do with and that they need to have their own car.

    To make matters worse the bus system here was designed around a busy downtown, which is now nearly desolate (save for bars, bars, and more bars), so they are shut down an hour too early to take a bus home if you work a 'normal' 9-5 job... If the bus system can't support people working 9-5 jobs, it's lost out on a huge part of it's potention passengers.

    Oh yeah... shouldn't be hard to see I think the politicians here are among the ones that think public transit is a disease.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 30, 2005 @05:43AM (#14363708)
    So how many clicks did your Slashdot comment with multiple links create?
  • Help me out here... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by MC Negro (780194) on Friday December 30, 2005 @05:48AM (#14363716) Journal
    I am quite confused by this. I've read the article. I've browsed the webpage and I've read the FAQ. I don't get it.

    Not to be a wet blanket or anything, but I'm completely missing the brilliance here. It seems like he's essentially selling rather overpriced banner-ad space, without any content to drive traffic or visitor click-throughs (I guess relying entirely on the notoriety of the site in the press?)

    I'm having trouble understanding how firms would really think it's a wise investment to spend $x dollars advertising on a website that has zero draw. Who cares if the banner will be up there for 5 years if no one has incentive to visit the hosting website? I skimmed the FAQ, looking for promises of content or incentive for traffic, and here's all I found --

    7. Why should I buy your pixels? Because you will have an image and a link to your site on the homepage of a site that could potentially be seen by millions of people over the coming years. The site will be online for at least 5 years, that's guaranteed, but the idea is to keep it online forever. So you really could own a piece of 'internet history'!
    Um, "Why would millions of people visit this website?" would be a good follow-up question. I imagine that neither I nor many other people stay up in the wee hours of the night to watch collections of paid programming advertisements or flip straight to the adverstising section of a magazine. Why would I go to a website that is just a big billboard?

    I checked out the "Testimonials", which I'm skeptical of, to say the least. Lots of references to making "Internet history". Maybe I'm just completely out of it, but I really don't see how pooling a shitload of static banner-ads onto one page constitutes "Internet history".

    With all this in mind, I once again raise the question how this is "genius". Clever? Sure. Exploiting of ignorance and gimmicky? Possibly. Genius? No. At best, I would say this is a lucky flash-in-the-pan bit that will never work twice, unless browsing websites devoted entirely to advertising space becomes profoundly interesting in the future.

    However, if I've overlooked some massive details, or I'm not making the appropriate connections, please tell me, because I'm still in disbelief that this works on any level. An MBA I am not, so if there's some sort of defined principles for what constitutes genius in the business world, it's lost on me. Or maybe this is genius of the P.T Barnum ilk? Regardless, if this site really is riding on the coattails of its own notoriety, I guess he deserves kudos for creating such a buzz (no matter how gimmicky and seemingly undeserving such buzz is), and at least he's using the money for college (or so it is stated), and not on a new mansion or something completely materialistic in value.
  • by houghi (78078) on Friday December 30, 2005 @08:48AM (#14364155)
    All nice about the money making. I am more interested if he does it all by hand or does it with a script or program. Placing the stuff must be a hell of a job considering not all sqares are the same size.

    http://www.milliondollarhomepage.com/img-pix/image -map.png [milliondol...mepage.com] is the image you see.

    Who cares about the money? I want to know how it works.

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