Several years ago I remember coming across a link to a site selling some advertising. I can’t remember how I found it, but I found a website that was selling off space on the homepage in pixel blocks. When I got to the site, I found what was mostly an empty grey square, which had a few sparse ads on it, as tiny square pixel ads, but the site was mostly empty.
I dismissed the site, and thought, that’s not going to happen. The idea was that the site owner was aiming to fill the square (1000 x 1000 pixels) with ads, by selling the space off in minimum ‘lots’ of 10 x 10 pixels (or 100 pixels) for US$100 each.
That would have been back in 2005 or 2006, as the site was launched in 2005.
Jump ahead a few years, and here it is: http://www.milliondollarhomepage.com/.
I found the link to it just now reading an eBook, which referenced it, and it looks like the site owner (Alex Tew) achieved his goal and sold the lot. In fact, he really did do it, and in the process made over US$1,000,000 of income from it.
Conceived as a way for him to pay for his University studies, the site was filled and remains online today over 8 years later.
From a design perspective, the homepage brings back memories of some of the insanely colourful (and ugly) web ads that are reminiscent of the internet in the 1990s using prime RGB colour blocks and other colour combos that are restricted to the 216 colour web palette (even though the site was started in 2005). However, all the ads were submitted to the site by people purchasing their space. Collectively, as one 1000×1000 pixel block, it has a certain appeal that would suit a trendy cafe wall if printed, almost like a wall where many posters have been plastered over the top of each other over many years down the side of an alley as people try in vain to get their spot.
In short, I like it, and found it interesting to see that the goal was achieved! Anyone else looking to do the same thing would be seen as copying. The site owner promised the site would remain online for five years, and now that eight have passed, it would be interesting if he will do it again.
It has even got its own Wikipedia entry: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Million_Dollar_Homepage