This week, marketing expert Seth Godin, has chimed in with his thoughts on the Million Dollar Home Page.
The Million Dollar Homepage is an innovative site created by college student Alex Tew to help raise money for his college education. Alex’s business model involved selling the one million pixels displayed on the home page for $1 per pixel. The business experiment turned out to be a huge success — Alex sold all of the ad space.
In his post, Seth is impressed with Alex Tew’s strategy but is bewildered by all of the sites attempting to duplicate his success:
When I see the 10,000 copycats out there, all I can do is sigh. Why do they believe this is a new trend? Why do they think it’s going to become an important part of the marketing mix, and are they really so naive to believe that they, and they alone, will earn even more than Alex did?
I agree. I have serious doubts any of the sites trying to duplicate the concept will be successful. The Million Dollar Homepage was a novel advertising campaign that generated attention for many of the site’s initial advertisers because people wanted to see who was willing to participate in this experiment. But I find it hard to believe the site generates much value for advertisers now that all of the pixels have been sold.
The concept fails as a marketing strategy for a few reasons. Online branding is not just about exposing potential customers to the organization’s logo. We’ve seen in our research studies that indirect messaging such as logos rarely works effectively unless users are repeatedly exposed to them. Plus, the Million Dollar Homepage is so overloaded with images and impressions, it’s unlikely users will pay attention to one particular logo.
Successful online branding also involves a user forming an emotional association (such as a feeling of excitement or happiness) about an organization or product. In the case of the Million Dollar Homepage, customers are exposed to a page of cluttered advertisements. There isn’t a real relationship or emotional association being built.
Finally, advertisements tend to work best when they are in some way related to the task users are trying to accomplish when they visit a site. Without understanding the users’ context when they arrive at the Million Dollar Homepage, is any ad on the page guaranteed to resonate with them? I don’t think so.
While the Million Dollar Homepage is an innovative idea that paid off for the site’s creator, it really hasn’t paved the way for a new approach to successful advertising.