Go Away, Pixel Pages!

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By far, one of the strangest fads in internet advertising in 2005 has been the advent of the pixel advertising web site. It started as an idea by British student Alex Tew who decided to raise $1 million to pay for school. The novelty of the site, The Million Dollar Homepage, spawned not only $1M for him, but also about a million other copycat sites by other folks looking to get rich without lifting a finger.

Don’t these people have something better to do? Like get a haircut and a real job?

There’s no way on this God-created Earth that any pixel advertising site other than the original is going to be successful in the long-run. And here are three reasons why:

  • In order for any advertising site to work, you need traffic. Alex Tew’s site has been online since August. People visited his site because it was unique. Now the novelty is gone. Once you’ve seen the original pixel site, there’s no reason for people to visit another pixel site ever again.
  • Any site covered in gaudy ads, with some being only 10×10 pixels in size, is bound to cause information overload on behalf of the viewer. As an advertiser, your pixel ad is so small that, unless you have some whiz-bang eye-catching design, there’s no way a visitor is going to be able to pick out your ad from the thousands of other ads screaming for their attention.
  • Any pixel site that’s undocumented and unreviewed just looks like a spyware infection waiting to happen. Visitors have no idea what the pixel ad publisher’s policies are. For all they know, they could be clicking on one of those million-popup-generating links.

22 COMMENTS

  1. I agree that million pixel ad pages are useless at this point. The idea was great – ONCE. For some, the idea spawned some creativity and a different means of presentation. That’s the story at eapixel.com. The site is done in flash and there are no pixel based ads per se. Ads are presented as Pixel Art.

  2. Pixel ad page clone websites have got to be the biggest waste of time. What in the world would make people think that copying a great, simple idea and beating it to death would generate any revenue!?

    I read Pixelboy’s comment and looked at that site he mentioned. Ok it is advertising. It is also small ad submissions by advertisers. But the site looks good. Seems to be well thought out.

    I like the idea of using that pixel art too. What is interesting to me is the dialog about these pixel ad pages being likened to “link farms” as far as the search engines are concerned. I think the MDHP put the kaibosh on that. Google indexed the site regardless. But the eapixel site is done in flash which wipes out the stigma of a link farm. And they do have a links page too listing advertisers.

    All in all I think it is a novel, treatment of ad presentation and is worth a look. It is the only site I have seen like that so I suppose they have a leg up on originality… which by the way the MDHP had when it first kicked off. I don’t have anything to advertise but if I did I would probably buy one of thos pixel houses… maybe a pixel boat!

  3. Those pixel pages are all over the place. I don’t see how any advertiser would get any benefit from anything other than that million dollar page. But the trend has started and the market flooded.

    The eapixel.com website http://www.eapixel.com though does have quite a unique approach. It was a matter of time befor epeople started using maps for pixel advertising but eapixel.com I think put a sufficient spin on pixel advertising to call itself unique AND o get a LOT of traffic. There is no counter there but they must be doing some damage since eapixel is all over google. Plus the pixel art is pretty cute. I give eapixel.com a thumbs up. I hope they make it. Original ideas should be rewarded.

  4. Well, for a starter I cannot imagine why some of you are so much against pixel ads .I believe it is a great form of advertising ,I agree that alen tew had the upperhand ,cos he was the creator of this new craze ,but my friends this pixel advertising is a breakthrough in the advertising world.Just have a look around and you will find the existence of expensive oversaturated advertising methods ,and this is a burst of fresh air,believe me pixel adverting is here to stay.It has made online marketers to change their course of advertising in the form of pay per pixel!
    Maybe Alan somewhat took advantage of his pricy blocks ,of course he had the full right to do so ,but we here at yahoomillionpixel have changed all that and our customers can see our pixel ads from a “mile”
    Not only we are the first pixel site i new zealand but we have the largest pixel blocks ,we also have the lowest price and our customers are allowed to have their pixels on our sites as long as they want,not only that we are giving our customers the right to have one year of free advertising so there you have it pixel ads are working here in new zealand ,australia like magic and all because of my great friend Alex Tew ! cheers !

  5. Usham, I agree with you. Alex Tew certainly opened the door. He ought to get soe kind of award for that.

    And you have found a way to modify or hopefully change his idea to something that works best for you. Much luck with the website.

    The micro-advertising is very much a breakthrough and it will be fun and interesting to watch it evolve. There are many more creative minds out there that can maniulate the idea into something just as profitable as the million dollar homepage.

    That’s what I’m homing for my site, eapixel.com. Sure they are ads but I think I put sufficient originality into it. I have a couple other ideas I will launch soon depending on the success (or, sigh, failure) of the eapixel.com project.

    But it is great to have the creative juices flowing again even if Alex Tew had to kick me in the butt tho get my brain in gear!

  6. I think there are a few other creative ways of promoting this type of income… there is one that is giving away half the money in random prizes to be drawn like a football pool… whoever has that pixel gets the prize..

    BUT the big cavaet is if they have no traffic, no presence it becomes a fallen tree in the forest… no-one sees it so you are wasting your money!

  7. Here comes the bad news!

    I have been investigating the Alexa rank of top Pixel websites lately. Guess what, they are on the fall.. big time! The thing is, the whole buzz is over. The fact remains that to get meaningful advertising you need to apply the concept of relevance. Webmasters have realized that they are wasting their money on buying pixels, when all they get in return is untargeted and random traffic. If you are thinking of getting a pixel website, they only two ways to succeed, in my opinion, is to: either have an enormous budget to invest on a website that would have a search function (for relevant pixels); or base your website on a theme. A theme you like. The idea of pixel advertising is great, and I can fat cats such as google studying its feasibility. For thin rats like me, I have invested in a small pixel website, based on the theme of unsigned and new music artists. I hope it does succeed?! http://www.theunsignedcollage.com

  8. Yes, pixel ad websites will fail in the long run.

    The reason why Alex’s site worked is because it was the first of it’s kind. No-one else can emulate it again, athough some can generate a legitimate business out of it, if done correctly.

    I have a site that builds upon the original idea and combines it to a second generation concept. It’s the first ever tactical advertising game and the worlds first interactive pixel advertising-style site. And it’s working pretty well for me and advertisers.

    http://www.pixelword.com

    Alex just opened the door to many other opportunities. Many arent creative enough though.

  9. Larry, that seems to be the case everywhere pixel advertising is discussed these days unfortunately.

    The author of this article is spot-on. No brand advertisers support pixel ads anymore. What’s more, they supported Alex Tew’s effort not because it represented some dramatic innovation in online advertising, but because he did a brilliant job of driving high-end attention to the site through offline publicity campaigns.

    Interestingly, and the millions of copy-cat pixel sites that exist today seem to be primarily selling pixels to each other, in one of the most amusing online advertising hypocrisies since the incestuous “pay to surf” trend of the late nineties.

  10. Funny. I can also validate some of the statistics. A site that I help with was put on Tew’s page at the $14,500 mark, and we got _great_ traffic for about 4 days until more stuff was put up there (We’re a 20X20 little blue and yellow X in the top left quadrant). Still, compared to the $400 investment, we still get about 100 clicks a month. As untargeted traffic, it doesn’t convert well. We sell a laptop desk/heat shield, so we’re more akin to a CPS model — anyone want to help us with that, BTW? :)

    For our $400 investment I figure we’ve generated about $100 in revenue directly from our ad on the MDHP.

    The funny part is that since we were early on the MDHP, a couple of copycat sites put us on theirs without our permission :)

  11. I believe that Alex’s site still generates some indirect value for advertisers at least by improving their visibility in search engines. It has a PageRank of 7 and many still continue to add links to it (by the way, this article has just added one link). So, getting the link from website with such a high PageRank for as low as 1$ it is clearly a reasonable investment. Good luck to all the copycats :)
    http://www.milliondollarhosting.net

  12. Thanks for very interesting article. btw. I really enjoyed reading all of your posts. It’s interesting to read ideas, and observations from someone else’s point of view… makes you think more. So please keep up the great work. Greetings.

  13. I think these blog is really useful for new comers and Excellent resource list. It´s a very interesting Blog and simple answer of many questions.Keep up the good work!
    Thanks it helps me a lot

  14. There are places that even sell clone scripts for these pixel pages to. Its gotten way out of hand. Yes the first guy did it because of all the free press he got but no one else is ever going to make the same thing work.

  15. Well maybe I can buy up all the useless pixel.com names and corner the market.. :-)

    Wanted Your old Pixel site..(actually I only want the traffic, no matter how small)

    Anything can work even pixel pages, usually those most against anything new are those who stand the most to lose, if the new is successful.

    Don’t write off the pixel page idea yet and most certainly don’t stop bashing the idea, the bashing helps to keep the idea alive, until the Great Pixel comes long and makes it popular again.

  16. no other site will make it to the top anymore, I think they are a complete waste of time!! So they should just stop. Great article though.

  17. I think people should start thinking a bit more, as mentioned in the article the pixel days have been over long ago but I still see people trying to make one of these sites a sucess.

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