Mother of Two Launches Plan to Make Money by Giving Away $1,000,000

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Look out cyber-geeks, this twenty-eight year old mother of two from Knoxville, Tennessee may have found a way to revolutionize the pixel ad craze and make someone else a millionaire in the process.

Marcee Townsend was looking for ideas of how she could leave her corporate job in telecommunications sales to stay home with her two young children. She doesn’t have a high-tech degree, and in no way considers herself an internet genius. However her background in sales and understanding of basic marketing principles allowed her to come up with a site that allows the pixel ad model to be beneficial for all. She hasn’t created the first pixel ad site in which one million pixels would be sold. Alex Tew did that with his Million Dollar Homepage, but that is where she got the idea.

“I’m not even sure how I got to the site, but one day I ran across milliondollarhomepage.com,” said Ms. Townsend. “I definitely thought it was a unique idea and obviously the guy made money from the site, but most of the advertising was sold because of the novelty and hype. During the timeframe that the site was active, however, many advertisers claimed to have had tremendous traffic to their site due to the tiny little ad they had placed. Some claimed to have increases ranging from 125%-600%. I mean we’re talking ads that in most cases were smaller than a kernel of corn.”

With copycat sites popping up all over the internet, Ms. Townsend knew that for her site to be successful she would need to differentiate it from the rest. She asked for the help of her husband, Chris Townsend, a thirty year old marketing professional and web developer.

“The original concept was really good,” said Mr. Townsend. “While advertisers saw increased traffic to their sites during the duration of the project, traffic dropped significantly once it was completed. We realized that we needed to create a model that had sustainability”

Two questions concerned the pair: how to achieve a constant flow of traffic to the site for their advertisers and what could they do to entice visitors to continuously visit the site?

“One of the issues we had with existing pixel ad sites is the fact that most sites don’t offer anything other than the pixel ads. What would cause me to revisit that site?” asked Ms. Townsend.

They believe they have found the answer. They decided to offer a one million dollar grand prize. On March 27, 2006, they launched TreasurePix.com. When a visitor first launches the site, they will not immediately see any advertising; instead they will a puzzle forming. When a visitor moves their mouse over the puzzle pieces they will see advertisements. There is a game incorporated into the site and the completed puzzle is the fourth and final clue. The other three clues will be disguised as advertisements. Players must click on every pixel to see if they have found the clue, generating a high click through rate (CTR) for advertisers. Once a player believes they know the answer, they may submit an online form to be entered for the prize drawings. The game is free for anyone to play; similar sites often require that a player purchase advertising to be eligible for the drawings. “The game and prize money is not about attracting advertisers, it is about attracting the everyday person, the players traffic is what will bring the advertisers” said Mr. Townsend.

According to the Townsends there will be a total of seven puzzles and each one will have a cash prize drawing ranging from $5000-$50,000. Advertisers also have the option of contributing items that will be placed into the treasure chest. These prizes will be given away through random drawings and any registered user is eligible to win. After the last ad is placed on the seventh puzzle, there will be the Grand Prize drawing of $1,000,000. All of the prizes are contingent upon advertisers purchasing ad space and completing the puzzle.

When asked what they were doing to attract initial response to the site, this was what Ms. Townsend had to say, “It is never enough to just develop a site and let it sit, hoping that traffic will magically appear. Like any other business we have had to develop a marketing strategy. One strategy, which is our affiliate program is set to launch the beginning of April. We are really excited about the program; we want everyone in the online community to see that we are committed to this project and in it for the long haul.”

While their ultimate goal is to make enough money to keep Ms. Townsend home with the kids, they understand the basics of marketing. “We know that in order to drive traffic to the sites of our advertisers, we have to provide incentive for people to spend time on the site. We’re counting on our visitors to return over and over again for both the fun of the game and the opportunity to win some money. This is about taking what started as a novel idea and turning that novelty into a successful business model,” said Ms. Townsend.

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