No More Excuses to Dodge Web-TV: Angry Birds on Roku

The Roku turns your Internet into television (and has a cool fiber logo tag)
You cannot resist his face and the clouds and the blue background.

You’ve heard about online video, and you have a few extra large monitors (HDTV) that you aren’t using. Now you’re running out of excuses, because the Roku (which like AppleTV, Boxee, TiVo and other devices) will soon offer Angry Birds… right on your boob tube. To be sure Roku is right for you, check out this comparison (GigaOM) to AppleTV’s fall update and the Boxee.

If you’re already a member of Amazon Prime (free trial here) or Netflix (free trial here), you’ll get better use out of these limited but generous “all you can eat” video collections, although some devices (Wii, Xbox) allow you to search Netflix’s entire collection instead of just your manually populated “Instant Que.” I have just about every web-to-TV box available, and Roku’s my favorite. I use TiVo most often, because it’s my bedroom replacement to Verizon’s crappy Motorla units. And if I’m on a YouTube binge, I do like the simplicity of AppleTV.

Roku wins because it’s incredibly easy to navigate, and the remote is as simple as AppleTV with barely any buttons. I also admit to digging the new fabric tag that pokes out the remote, making it even more unique.

If you’re overwhelmed by the steps required to starting on these devices, here’s the dealeo. In most cases (Hulu as an exception) you don’t even need to pay a monthly fee for additional content, like the library of Revision3 channels.

The idiot’s guide to getting started on web-TV for $99 and about 5 minutes of your precious time.

Get more out of that boob tube and stop pesky burning $4 on "on demand" movies.
  1. Buy the Roku (Amazon affiliate link). That’s the most difficult step, and there’s no service fee required.
  2. Plug the Roku into an electric outlet.
  3. Plug in an ethernet cord from your modem or router (or use one of these wireless internet adapters, which sends internet via electricity).
  4. Connect the Roku to your television via those red, white yellow cords or the fat one called an HDMI cable (audio and video)
  5. Turn on Roku and follow brief instructions
  6. Gorge on free content, and if you have Roku or Amazon, simply generate an approval code then tap that into your account to verify the box is yours and not some nosey neighbor pouching your account.
  7. Write me and tell me how I’ve opened your eyes to the impossible.

 

Uploading Video to YouTube Via Phone: iPhone vs Palm Pre

Here’s my wife and I testing her iPhone (AT&T) against my Palm Pre (Verizon) to see which one could shoot and upload best to YouTube. Turns out my Palm Pre failed to post after an hour, so I had to do it manually. Her iPhone compressed the video, and had it live in minutes. Winner: iPhone.

Play them both at the same time for some interesting perspective…

Palm Pre (unclenalts). Slightly better quality, but never uploaded from phone… had to use laptop.

iPhone (wifeofnalts): Compressed and not as sharp, but it worked.

Sell Your Video B-Roll Online

Are you a b-roll hoarder? Have hundreds of videos of quality HD video content that’s rotting away in your closet?

Thanks to “10 More New Ways to Make Money Online,” here’s a tip…
If you’re a digital video fanatic, turn your high-quality b-roll into bucks using stock imaging sites that also carry video footage like Pond5, iStockPhoto Video and Pixelflow. You get to set your price, set your terms, and add this new revenue stream to your income.

Having tried to find cheap footage (in my case of a golf ball rolling into a hole), I found the options on Getty One cost prohibitive. Three forces will make this marketplace boom:

  • Need for more inexpensive video content to serve diverse online mediums and target markets.
  • Declining market budgets put pressure on original production.
  • Amateurs can produce near pro quality without high barriers to entry.

Just don’t forget… you may need to compete with these guys. Because THEY’VE got that b-roll.

Trivia: Time Watching Television Versus Online Video?

I’m fairly immersed in the online-video space, but would have had to “phone a friend” if you asked me some of these questions on “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.”

  • Are we consuming more or less television now that we have online video and the mobile players (3 screens)?
  • What percent of our live television viewing has given way to “time shifted” (via DVRs, TiVo, AppleTV and stuff)?
  • How much time do we Americans spend in front of the television versus watching online video?

The answers may surprise you. Try to guess before peeking.

  • As you might have gathered, we’re actually consuming more television according to Nielsen’s “Three Screen Report” (despite the other two screens: mobile and computer).
  • I must be in a small minority because I watch precious little live television. The rest of the nation consumes only about 2 hours of time-shifted television per week, compared to about 35 hours of live television. Obviously our attention differs dramatically. For instance, my kids are blaring Nickelodeon behind me as I type. But I just noticed an ad for Miranda Cosgrove’s new CD, so maybe that counts.
  • Now for the zinger. A single amateur can sometimes command a larger audience than well-known television shows. I just made the graphic below for my book, “Beyond Viral” (Wiley). Pretty wild that one dude can swing 50 million views in the past 30 days (according to TubeMogul). Dane Boedigheimer, who produces GagFilms and AnnoyingOrange, was late to the YouTube party because he was soaking in the now set Metacafe sun… but now he’s knocking out more than 1.6 million views per day.
One YouTube "webstar" commands 50 million views in the past 30 days. That has him rivaling audiences of many well-known television shows.
  • But before you think we’ve all migrated to online video, our average consumption pales when compared to television. We early adopters are still early. Yes the folks that gobble up 35 hours of television are only watching 22 minutes of online video according to Nielsen Wire’s recent chart below. I suppose those 22 minutes might be longer if the majority of us made it past that first 60 seconds (which we don’t according to this way outdated Tubemogul report).
Video consumption by medium by age... seems we're still only snacking online video while we're feasting television.
  • Before you make any major conclusions based on this data, it’s important to remember two things: First, if we looked at a bell curve, we’d observe that these numbers are highly skewed by those that won’t be bothered with online video. I know many people who have abandoned television entirely. Second, this behavior is changing rapidly. For instance, there’s been a 30% plus increase in our simultaneous use of television and web (now I’m hearing Flapjack in the background).
  • I wish it was TreeTrunks or the little hand alien from Bravest Warriors. She’s so soothing.

Website Video Tools if You’re Too Poor for Brightcove But Too Rich to Settle for YouTube Embeds

I’ve long been baffled by the overwhelming alternatives of video-streaming players. It struck me as a commodity market, and one ready for a major consolidation… and I couldn’t understand why anyone would pay to stream videos on their site when so many cool tools are free (which here means “cheaper than $100 a month”).

Larry Kless, who will facilitate a panel I’m on at “Online Video Platform Summit” (Streaming Media West) in a few days, blogged recently about video-streaming. Don’t read Kress’ blog because he fails to mention me (tee, hee), but check the USAToday piece about a maturing space that includes such players as Fliqz, Sorenson Media’s 360, and VideoBloom. Adap.tv is another player, but not mentioned.

So it finally it occurs to me (I’m a little slow when it comes to technology, damnit) that there appears to be a sustainable middle-space between free sites (YouTube, Blip, Vimeo, etc) and more robust corporate solutions (which Brightcove and others are trying to secure).

I urge clients and marketers to post on YouTube regardless of what they choose to stream videos on their tiny little websites. It’s a no-brainer for two reasons: first, because it helps their content optimize on search engines (sorry girlfriend, but Google aint indexing your Quicktime player buried three layers deep on your product.com site). Second, most people will find the video on YouTube video far before ever finding their stupid website… and that may be enough to make a sale.

That said, embedding YouTube videos on your website gives off an amateur vibe. You can’t private label it, it may have related videos that take people elsewhere, and you get limited data. And Brightcove is getting that “if you haven’t heard of us you probably can’t afford us” vibe.

Enter the mid-market players, which will provide far more customization and data without breaking the bank (TubeMogul.com has partnerships with a lot of free sites that also serve this need in various degrees). And here’s how it works:

  1. Upload your videos to the sites, sorensonmedia.com, fliqz.com or videobloom.com, where they are hosted.
  2. Tweak the video player to include your company name (now you get branding and a less amateur feel).
  3. Grab a code to place the video on your site or blog (you can first share the video privately with clients for approvals, which requires a lot of effort on YouTube).
  4. Pay a monthly fee. Sorenson and Fliqz start at $99 monthly.

I will still argue that this space is ripe for consolidation, and that most small-to-medium businesses will probably choose their video player based on their choice of hosting provider (the same way we accept whatever damned device our cable or car manufacturer provides). So if I were one of these guys, I’d be developing partnerships with those providers and giving them an upsell opportunity in exchange for an installed base.

I also fear that these players, when finding the low-level market increasingly price sensitive, will have trouble moving far “upstream,” as most dreaded Fortune 500 information-systems or information-technology departments pride themselves on rejecting anything that isn’t enterprise worthy (and only Microsoft, SAP, Oracle, God, Blackberry and perhaps Brightcove know how to pull that off).

Why YouTube Beats Twitter and Facebook for Marketing

I’m so tired of the hype around Twitter and Facebook for marketing, and I recently wrote a satire of the whole social-media racket. Here’s why I like YouTube better for marketers and advertisers, and I’ll end with an example.

  • It’s the second largest search engine
  • You get an assload of data on the video’s performance (see “more” below).
  • People notice ads because they’re in a passive viewing state, rather than a dialogue with friends
  • The messages are more visceral in video (versus text)
  • You’ve got a chance at being seen- organically and via paid media
  • You can control your message

Meanwhile, Facebook and Twitter are quite popular, but where does a brand play? Do people really want to “friend” a brand? Maybe if it’s one they already love, but that’s not a good customer acquisition play… just a retention complement.

Twitter is good for content providers, stars, and bloggers… but there’s not a good advertising play. The spam I get saying “earn 87.00 per tweet” is nonsense. I’d unfollow someone that was whoring regularly,  and 140 characters is too limited for most brand messaging. More importantly, your “tweet” has a shelf life of about 10 minutes, and there’s nobody that can tell you how many people even SAW your tweet. Then it’s virtually gone. YouTube videos have a residual value because people can continue to find them, and the view counter speaks for itself.

Should you advertise on Facebook? I guess, but I don’t know of many brands getting a great engagement rate on Facebook ads… maybe a bit more targeted, but ads are as ignored as most banners on websites. And what brand or company has valuable information it can dole out via Facebook messages intravenously?

The bottom line is that Facebook and Twitter are conversations between people, and advertising is an interruption. YouTube is somewhere you go regularly to graze, and a visceral ad will catch your attention if the video is boring. Promotion within a video (sponsorship) are much better because they’re contextually relevant, entertaining and there’s an implied endorsement. And, as you’ll see if you hit “more” below, there’s a wealth of data on its performance.

Let’s “bring this home” with an example. On a per-impression basis, these two promotions probably cost the advertiser about the same…

  1. First we have a random ad I discovered on one of my infrequent visits to Facebook.
  2. Next we have my most-recent sponsored video on YouTube (it’s at about 50,000 views and is one of the most popular videos of the day). It’s a sponsored promotion for Fox Broadcasting’s “Glee,” that I did via Hitviews. Click “more” below to see the data associated with it.

Which one would compel you?

Boring Facebook Ad
Boring Facebook Ad

Continue reading “Why YouTube Beats Twitter and Facebook for Marketing”

Poor Man’s FlipCam: Sylvania DV-128

A few people have written me notes to the extent of, “I wish I could do videos, but my camera is so bad.” I usually tell them to relax, and just make sure the lighting and compression is good. The reality is that those two factors can make up for a lot if your camera is old… then I tell them to settle for a Flipcam, which is easy to use and fairly low cost.

Unfortunately, Flipcam (now owned by Cisco) has resisted providing a lower price-point, and has for years been stuck at the $150 plus level (HD versions are down to about $176, though… so splurge). Meanwhile, there are countless min-video-cam options for people with lower budgets wanting something fairly similar. But FlipCam hasn’t yet, to my knowledge, pursued the Mac strategy (as Apple did with the iPods)… innovate to maintain the higher end buyers, but produce a lower-end unit for the mass-market of $100 peeps.

Today I received a Buy.com offer for a $40 (including shipping) Sylvania DV-128 digital video camera with built in memory and an SD slot. I searched extensively for product reviews or consumer ratings, and found virtually nothing on ePinions, Google, YouTube and Amazon.com.

So I bought it, and will review it on my UncleNalts channel. If it sucks, you’ll hear about it here first. If it’s okay, then I’ll probably suggest it for the price-sensitive people… or folks that want to keep an extra camera around for backup. I expect it to be harder to use, lower picture quality, and poor sound. But at $40 shipped I’m considering it almost “disposable.” Worse case scenario I take it on a dangerous ride down the river.

Again- I like the Flipcams, but that’s because I’ve never bought one. Gotten more than my share of free ones from Google and YouTube, and it does the trick. Katie (my 9 year old) used the FlipCam for all of her 15 mini-episodes of “The Charlie Show” (see www.charlieshow.com). Certainly much better quality than the video capture that comes with some $100-$200 standard photo cameras, but the magic of FlipCam is the incredible ease of use. She chose to edit these videos in iMovie because she knew I could give her the basics. But I’ve played with the FlipCam editing software, and it’s not bad. Comes free with the device, and old cameras automatically prompt you for new firmware.

Hey, Flip cam peeps (and we know you’re reading). Happy to review the new HD one here and on my YouTube channel if you want to send one along. I got a little HD envy seeing Shaycarl’s.

Here’s the source for that Flip HD… buy it so I can make a penny on my Amazon affiliate program. Hah. Flip MinoHD Camcorder, 60 Minutes (Black)

Choosing the Best Video Chat Tool or Software: FaceBook, Stickam, Skype, Google Chat, AIM, BlogTv

Compare and review video chat- stickam, skype, facebook, google chat, stickam, blogtv, AIM… Which one is the best for you? Depends on your use.

It’s a race for live video chat. Which one is right for you? First the history, then some recommendations based on what you plan to do (one-to-one or one-to-many).

  • First it was Stickam, where community people would run group video sessions.
  • Then came Blogtv.com, which provided advertising dollars to popular online-video talent to run live shows (the most-subscribed blogtv creators are, not coincidentally, all most-subscribed on YouTube).
  • Stickam and Blogtv, according to Alexa, are currently fairly close in terms of visitors and time spent on site (as much as 13 minutes).
  • Skype also extended its audio chat to video. And of course there’s always AIM video for people either far behind or far ahead of the time.
  • Then Google/Gmail Video Chat made it easy, and integrated with Google mail.

Now Facebook is getting into the game. Given the proliferation of Facebook, I’d guess we’ll see significant use of its video chat — perhaps more than Gmail or AIM since it’s a common platform regardless of e-mail or hosting provider.

It’s unfair to compare these, because they have different purposes. Here are three, with my recommendations:

  1. Want a video-conference call that includes several people, and potentially observers with view/comment access only? Try Stickam.
  2. Want to do a “show” for a large audience? Blogtv is probably best, unless you want to interact with interviewees or callers… then it gets limited.
  3. Going one-to-one? AIM, Google Video Chat, Skype, and FaceBook seem like reasonable bets. Given that FaceBook likely has your network established, I’m betting on it surpassing the others.

nalty merck

How to Buy Video Views on YouTube

Some sites that will take your money if you’re desperate for views. Hmmm…

Well it’s awfully silly, but did you know you can buy video views? I don’t recommend it. But it seems just a bit classier than creating a bot that automatically jacks up your view count (and you know who you are). What’s the point, though?

Does the meter matter? If you’re a marketer, you want behavior not just views. And if you’re an entertainer, don’t you feel a bit cheap by paying for views? Kinda like wearing someone else’s letter jacket (not that I ever wore my brother’s).

Now that I’ve warned you, here are some sites I discovered on this blog post:

Ewwww this is a sleazy business. It reminds me of my “cash to buzz” parody.