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Saturday, October 14, 2006

Pixel Advertising is Dead. Done. Over. Or is it?

It's been awhile since I've blogged about pixel advertising. It was interesting for a few months about a year ago. When Alex Tew's The Million Dollar Homepage launched (on 2005-08-26), it was incredible to see the amount of buzz generated and the volume of traffic the site was both receiving and delivering. I bought an ad on 2005-09-26, started blogging about pixel advertising traffic on 2006-01-18 and posted a pixel ads case study update on 2006-02-08. I wrote a Pixel Advertising vs Search Marketing article which I used as a landing page for pixels I was buying and constructed a Pixel Ads lens on Squidoo. With so much interest in buying and selling pixels at the time, I started receiving requests from webmasters asking for feedback on their pixel sites. I started posting pixel advertising site reviews on 2006-02-20. For a short while, the Squidoo lens ranked in the top 100 by LensRank. Traffic quickly tapered off from the various pixel sites on which I'd purchased pixels and I stopped blogging about pixel advertising in February. I continued to update the Squidoo page through March and April, noting that interest was waning. A recent thread in AdWords Help reminded me that people continue to build pixel ad sites. I don't get it. The phenomenon is over. It was interesting but short-lived.

If you disagree that pixel advertising is dead, leave a comment with a link to a pixel ad site you think is surviving and/or thriving. Explain why it has potential. No million dollar home page clones, please.

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Blogger Fritz said...

Pixel what/who/huh? ;-)

I still see press releases touting the latest pixel ad, but even somewhat clever ideas in that genre are being completely ignored as far as I can tell.

Sun Oct 15, 05:22:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Richard said...

Hey Fritz, why aren't there pixel ads plastered all over Cyclelicious?

I do think a small pixel grid on an established site might be the way for pixel advertising to find its niche. For example, if you had a 5x5 grid of favicons (80x80 pixels) on your site that were all bicycling sites, that might be a useful form of contextual advertising. IOW, that could be in place of AdSense, BlogAds, AdBrite, etc. If all of the sites represented in the pixel grid were relevant to your site's topic, then it might make sense.

But, these sites that are full pages of pixels from random sites are not going to work. I don't understand why people keep launching them. I'll be curious, though, to see if pixel advertising finds a niche or simply disappears.

Mon Oct 16, 07:26:00 AM EDT  
Anonymous Tim said...

I've made a pixel advertising alternative - improves on the concept in a number of ways:
- ads are free
- ads are big and can have something useful on them
- searchable, so users can find ads about a topic
- users tag based categories eg. "mac software"
- pay to increase your ad rank - pay more than everyone else to be at the top of your categories
- organised by country, to filter out irrelevant ads

It's basically a mix of the yellow pages and pixel advertising.

See the NZ version to see how it really can work:

Tue Oct 17, 08:49:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Richard said...

Hi Tim,

Looks like a cool concept. I like the description on your about page:

"For those that know about Web2.0 could be described as a fine meaty stew, made out of a yellow pages directory, an online noticeboard, the million dollar homepage, a dash of craigslist, and garnished with a sprig of"

I'll definitely take a closer look at What do you think will keep people coming back to the site?

Wed Oct 18, 01:16:00 AM EDT  
Anonymous Tim said...

Thanks for your reply Richard - The general idea is people will use like a directory, for example if someone wants a restaurant in Hamilton New Zealand

Not only will it show people where they can go, any company could create cards to advertise any specials they're having too.

It becomes a lot more useful as it fills up of course, so getting it to that point is the challenge :)

Sun Oct 22, 06:44:00 PM EDT  
Blogger mediablogger said...


I got the view of a very active market with various developments. e.g. xn link pages and game like environments or even search engines. There are real success stories beyond the initial milliondollarhomepage. My point of view is the contemplation of a business as usual scenario, which i explained at the latest article of our weblog.

Pixel Pages, the ongoing Development @ 10xn - PixelAds Weblog

Ed Mip

Thu Nov 02, 03:33:00 PM EST  
Blogger Richard said...

Hi Ed,

How are you measuring success of these pixel sites? Seems to me like old pixel advertising sites are losing traffic. New ones might get a temporary burst of traffic and then fade away.

Mon Nov 06, 07:54:00 PM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have been looking at pixel advertising, visiting forums to get the low down. Alot of the sites seem to be complete rubbish, how anybody would want to click a link on some of design. Million here million there million everywhere. I have come across a site though that seems to have an angle let me know what you think

Tue Nov 07, 07:49:00 PM EST  
Blogger Jason said...

Advertising Is Finished?

According to the Yankee Group, online advertising will surpass $50 billion in spending by 2011. The change is more about the new place (online) where consumers get their advertising messages and less about the actual messaging. Marketers need to have an expanded line of tactics to reach their desired results. No longer can a few media buys cover the audience.

The shift in marketing dollars away from traditional venues such as newspapers and toward online is clear. The Star Tribune reported recently that revenues were down $75 million during the past two years. According to the marketing journal B to B, of the advertisers who are reducing their marketing budget due to concerns of the economic slowdown, 45.3 percent are reducing their print budget. For those who are increasing their marketing budget in this economic downturn, 48.5 percent are increasing online spending. This trend has been happening for awhile. For most business leaders examining their marketing budgets, this shift is presents a challenge of new spending patterns less understood than prior choices.

For ad agencies there is less surprise but more strategy development and integration effort required. Most agencies are used to “non-traditional” methods. Each client presents unique situations to the agency which leads to more complex dependencies in campaign implementation.

What Succeeds?
Success in any marketing campaign continues to be well-aligned brand messages that arrive at the right time to the right audience. In the past, an ad placed in a highly read trade journal or publication would create the lead that other tactics (trade shows, direct mail, sales efforts, etc.) would support. Now it is less clear where your message will be seen first: will it be the banner ad on the industry portal? The billboard on the way into town? Your own Web site? Through an article (PR)? Any of these could be the first point of communication in a campaign.

What’s Changed?
In a short phrase: improved contextual messaging. Now you can place your message more often into the key moments when your prospect is considering purchasing your product or service. Before marketers would bring out a new product in a magazine that delivered to the key audience. Now marketers are placing advertisements online so when your prospect is researching a purchase your product or service becomes a consideration.

The easiest method to explain is Google Ads. Marketers can purchase key terms like “Jamaican Resort” so prospective travelers looking online will find the marketer’s resort presented immediately when the search is made. Another method is to post a video on YouTube with “tags” such as “best resort” and “Jamaician” will reach another prospective client. Additionally, adding content under a profile in a social network site such as Facebook about a recent trip to the resort will open the door to other prospects.

Games and interactive gadgets have also led to significant impact for marketers. A recent example is a got-elf’d gadget that allowed people to place their own face onto a dancing elf. This was emailed out by the user to friends (over 27 million times) with the brand that created the gadget (OfficeMax) being presented all-throughout the piece that played for a couple of minutes.

For each of the “non-traditional” methods above the marketer needed to focus on both the context and message dramatically, while letting the spread of the message to happen more organically. Despite this lack of obvious control (formerly: the ad ran in the March issue on page 27) the marketer gets deeper information about the reach of the message (through clicks, downloads, links, forwards, etc.). Marketers need to be open to seeing results return flexibly and not date and place specific. The upside of this is that interest builds in a way that allows for prompt and excellent response from the marketer’s organization. The downside is that a warehouse of products may trickle out while the message finds its market. Clearly, the planning and integration with the core business is a greater requirement now more than ever.

What Should a Marketer Do?
Marketers need to be very clear about who their prospect is in all the segmentation and analytical ways possible. Not just knowing who your target client is, but when they shop, what sites they visit, the process they go through during investigating a purchase and more is required. There are fewer boundaries. Pricing out services such as accounting, architecture and insurance are more transparent because of the internet. Choices are also broader because of the removal of geographic boundaries. Anything with a sku can be searched online to find the best possible price and package. Marketers need to be more relevant and more important than great delivery service from FedEx or UPS from a distant vendor’s warehouse to win business.

People still like to buy from trusted sources. Local providers should always have an advantage over those from other geographic places. Accessible providers have an advantage more so than difficult to reach vendors. If you are marketing to a region such as the Twin Cities, does your Web site allow people to contact you by phone or email directly or are you still using a form online that makes for a less rewarding experience?

Put advertising messages on your own Web site to connect what you are doing online and off-line so prospects see your organization as a smart, connected and caring group. Put specific Web-based information into off-line ads. Don’t just link people to your home page if you know that they want to see something deep within your Web site. Too often marketers are engaging with prospects in new places and then make the prospect “start-over” when they visit your Web site or call your order line. You need to be more intelligent about connecting your featured product or service with the prospect’s interest.


Be less concerned with a launch date and more concerned with multiple launch points for marketing campaigns
Be more available to prospects through more venues, methods and times than ever before
Be open to packaging services and products in unique ways to overcome commodity pricing
Have goals well-established and measure success in multiple ways (requests for quotes, information, as well as purchase increase)
Database prospects in ways that will allow you to continue a marketing conversation with them over a longer-term than one purchase cycle – form relationships with prospects, not just customers
Define value in reach based on the depth of qualification. A person that clicks on a google ad is more valuable than someone that visits your Web site – do you have the available methods in place to know the difference?
Ask media partners (newspapers, magazines, etc.) to offer expanded reach opportunities (such as inclusion in their email marketing newsletters) beyond the ad you may still place with them. Online advertising is still a great value versus traditional advertising. Many publications will deal with you if you are willing to buy across a number of their properties (online, in-print and in person).
Ask your customers and prospects what competitors they considered before choosing you, the answers may surprise you and lead you to new insights about your consumer’s behavior.
The Bottom Line
Advertising isn’t dead. It is new and improved! Total advertising spending continues to expand despite downturns in the economy. Prices for specific placements are changing (broadcast and off-line are going down; online is going up) so reprice your plans at least annually. The amount of places you need to consider is growing to near infinity, so expand your media buys appropriately based on information you gather from customers and prospects. Focus on strong branding and creative messages to ensure when you have the moment you make the greatest impact. Be nimble. Google wasn’t an ad opportunity five years ago. YouTube wasn’t an option three years ago. Facebook wasn’t something to consider two years ago. There will be new opportunities arriving this year (Check out and and next (perhaps you’ll be creating interstitials for streamed content, or authoring a lifestyle ‘zine soon – see,

Adsoka’s clients are finding great success by applying the comments above in their specific businesses. Contact us to learn more, mention this article and we will do an initial analysis at no charge.

Search “Adsoka Success” at Google and see what happens.


Ken Auletta, “The Search Party: Google Squares off with Its Capitol Hill Critics,” The New Yorker, January 14, 2008.

Kate Maddox, “Dealing with the Downturn,” B to B, February 11, 2008.

Yankee Group, (accessed January 14, 2008).

6x is the marketing newsletter published by Adsoka. 6x has six editorial sections—SMART, CREATIVE, CRAFT, TRENDS, PRAISE and RESULTS. Each section covers a different sphere of marketing, design and communications. The name “6x” references how often it is published and it mimics the sound of “success.” To sign up visit

Fri Mar 28, 09:16:00 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't think it's dead, there is a website called that is taking it to the next level. The guy who started it, Wayne (obviously lol) is pretty smart as he writes that he simply made a cash give away contest, giving away $1000 everytime he sells 5000 pixels.So far he's at 4100...

Wed Dec 30, 03:28:00 PM EST  

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