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.


The Future of Technology (as seen by Tom Selleck and AT&T in 1993)

Imagine sending a fax from the beach via a computer, or using a payphone to say goodnight to your child… from another timezone.

Tom Selleck provides the voice for this 1993 AT&T "we will" prediction campaign. It's as close to accuracy as a Michael Crichton novel, even if AT&T didn't pull anything off... besides dropped iPhone calls.

It was all part of AT&T’s WE WILL campaign, and remarkably accurate in its general predictions. But unfortunately we’re not sure the telecommunications company pulled any of these off. Hey- at least they were thinking.

Hey AT&T. Where's my Rosie Jetson?

Barbie Sees You When You’re Sleeping (FBI Alert)

The FBI issued an alert for “Barbie Video Girl” (see Barbiecam on Amazon), according to MyFoxPhoenix. Barbie has a camera on her chest (right above her size Ds) and a small LCD on her back. The controversy (see NBC) concerns how pedophiles might use the camera. Mattel isn’t planning on changing her. Would you?

Speaking of video equipment, I launched a new blog about digital video camcorders and cameras. It’s called “ShootLikePro” and will focus on decent gear for enthusiasts without big budgets or time for manuals. Click for a visit. It’s an interim blog unless people interact and I don’t get bored. I was researching options and figured I’d share my learnings so far.

Click to see my spinoff blog (experiment) focusing on video/photography production without breaking budget

YouTube Allows Special Tubers To Post Past 15 Minutes

YouTube will now allow hand-picked compliant Tubers to post clips longer than 15 minutes.

“This is incredible news to me, and I plan to post more than 24 hours of footage a day,” said Charles Trippy in a quote I made up. “I’ll now be able to post footage from 5 different cameras and allow viewers to select what angle they view of my day.”

The vlogger, who has been posting every day for the past 4 years (estimate) will also take advantage of the increased free bandwidth by posting his entire library of outtakes.

“There were 72 minutes of mistakes from my celebrated “Puppy vs. Mirror” video that have not seen light of day,” continued Trippy in my fake interview. “I’m thrilled, and I know my sock accounts will rate my additional footage “thumbs up.”

Internet’s Most-Viewed Live Hair Transplant

Well now I’ve seen everything. It seems Greg Benson, the follicularly challenged brains behind MediocreFilms has selected Earth’s best hair-transplant doctor to update his Bosley transplant (see video). With more than 13,000 live viewers via the Internet, this would indeed make hair-transplant history.

Dr. Alan Bauman, who you may know as SurgeonOfNalts, did the work… and now it’s a race to the finish. Will Nalts (me), the YouTube personality who once pitched Propecia, have the best hairline of 2010? Or will Greg? In a great moment of irony, Benson’s sporting the old Propecia mirrors. Ah, the days that we pharmaceutical firms could give out tissue boxes, pens and mirrors. Those were the days.

Benson made me proud when he, like perhaps every male transplant candidate, made the obligatory joke when one of Bauman’s peeps warned him about the loud, wet and cold cleansing-wash machine. It’s funny because it’s predictable, like his inclination to yell “bye MiniMi” before he runs over midgets.

Nearly 3500 new follicles (which represent a few hairs each) may be a record for a minimally invasive (no surgical slice) transplant. Dr. B uses a NeoGraft to do follicular unit extraction (FUE). Cutting edge that’s so cutting edge, it doesn’t require a cutting edge. Here’s a photo of Benson, with wife Kim Evey (producer of TheGuild and star of Gorgeous Tiny Chicken Machine Show).

Go, Greg. As YouTube funnyman Mark Day exposed, there are some side effects as I well know. Here’s some footage I just found that someone took of my live Internet broadcast during treatment, and here’s my summary video called “Hair Transplant Fun.”

Also worth watching are the educational videos we both did. Here’s my conversation with Bauman (which summarizes the steps in 5 minutes), and here’s Benson/Bauman talking about the entire procedure. Benson said he slept like a baby after his transplant, which is not what he experienced years before with the traditional surgery from Bosley. In a sequel to Alan’s interview, the duo speak about how even a year ago this 3K plus process wouldn’t have been possible, and about the recovery phase. After 6 months, you don’t notice much, but by 10-12 months you’ll see 90%.

Benson and I spoke recently, and are just gaga over this experience. In my Merck/Propecia capacity, I had lots of insights on the best hair-transplant surgeons. When I asked people who they’d chose, Bauman’s name came up constantly. We both know why.

Benson did it for his acting career, and I did it because 3 years working on a medication that treats hairloss will make you somewhat self conscious.

With all of this buzz, one can only hope that hair-transplants don’t need to be secrets (more on this on my blog). Some of the film and television actors and actresses you love have had these procedures, but you wouldn’t know it. Why?

  1. They don’t talk about it because they feel it would hurt their image.
  2. The doctors can’t reference their celebrity patients… unless they’re weblebrities who chose to take themselves a bit less seriously.

Eat Your Heart Out, I Made “Internet People 2”

Editorial update: See this site for more information. Thanks, Travis!

Nalts Cartoon internet people brentalfloss

Oh yeahhhh… Nalts ranking it up with some seriously online killers. Thanks Brentalfloss! Feeling cool! Here’s the Internet People original, which will remind you of some classics (most of which you’ll hear about again from your mom soon since she discovered Facebook).

Oh- and then there’s this version (the angrier Nalts), which incorporates some of the live images. See Spintown7 for this video.

Nalts cartoon spintown7

Why Agencies Are Killing Social Media & What You Can Do About It

Rapport-building anecdote to engage you: Around 1999, I worked as an account manager at a website-development company called Frontier Media Group. It was a company that specialized in production of online-properties and kiosks. My biggest client (which became the company’s second largest) began treating us like its “Internet Agency of Record,” and that took us far beyond project work. It was a vote of trust, and suddenly we were being asked to evaluate media buys and pilots. “What should the ratio of my Internet budget be in terms of web build versus online advertising?” they’d ask. I rushed back to the shop and pleaded my agency’s senior leadership to develop online media-buying services to handle display advertising and paid search… they resisted for more than a year, finally compelled less by duty and more by the incremental revenue it could snatch. “Hmmmm. A chance to snatch five percent of digital spending that was increasingly going online.” They hired a media guy whose job it was to battle offline media agencies who, of course, saw this internet-advertising fad as a horrific waste of money (which only coincidentally cannibalized their billings, but I digress).

we put the no in innovation

Now, a decade later, social media is facing a similar fate. As a marketer and independent consultant I see great opportunities that brands may not realize for years. As a former Internet agency guy, I understand why. It’s simply not yet profitable for an agency to engage in social media. Some account managers recommend social media, either because they know it’s in the brand’s best interest or they want to show they’re innovative. If the marketer appreciates the value, they’ll be heroes to the brand… even if they’re likely to be perceived as “going native” on their own agency. Why? Most savvy internet agencies haven’t figured out how to capitalize on emerging forms of social media, and urge clients to do things in their self interest. agency martini

Interactive agencies — and their big ol’ parental full-service agencies, to which I shall refer as Big Agency — are typically made up of account teams, production people, planners, media buyers and creative. They shout “teamwork and synergy” when they pitch, and they despise each other secretly. Each of these silos has its hands full managing such mundane tasks as updating a website or doing insertion orders for a fat & juicy digital media spend. These tasks are profitable. The account team, often the only one who may directly benefit from a social-media pilot because they’ll look progressive to their client, have precious few resources to actually manage even a simple social-media campaign. Who at the agency has done a video contest, a YouTube promotion, a Facebook or Twitter campaign? Who can help substantiate much less manage something new? Oh- there’s someone who did it… but he’s busy with new-business pitch.


Meanwhile, Big Agency has very little incentive to partner with firms that specialize in social media (instead deferring to a full utilization of all agency personal before considering “outsourcing”). That’s consulting or agency-management 101… keep people “off the beach” even if their skills aren’t a good fit this particular decade. The specialist firms are, therefore, unable to get a seat at the table. “We don’t need them for that,” says the Big Agency chief creative officer or senior media buying executive. “We can do that ourselves!”

The result is that the “social media” campaigns are often a failure. And so, it seems, the medium is too. But to paraphrase British Author G.K. Chesterton (and Bruce Grant, who paraphrased him in his own way):

Social media has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult, and left untried.


  • Bloated destinations on Facebook or Twitter that lack any relevant consumer engagement.
  • Little appreciation for “earned” engagements (not paid) because media buyers aren’t media engagers. They’re buyers.
  • Dismissive reactions to leveraging popular social-media “stars” because the agency sees that as a creative threat. The turtleneck-wearing, cigarette-holding creative director is insulted by letting their brand near an amateur YouTube star even if that chump has a bigger and more vibrant audience than will any professionally produced ad.

If an Internet firm or Big Agency can’t profit from social media (and sees it as a risk), how hard will they push it? Does an account guy want to take a risk for his client, only to be slapped around by 5 departments at his own employer? Will that Big Agency junior social-media advocate with skill and experience ever have an opportunity to help the agency, much less a client, tap the medium?

Meanwhile, the PR firms (who are instinctively appreciative of “earned” media that is so valuable in social media) are often not invited to contribute. These guys can’t spell HTML and didn’t have a Twitter account until it was all over the Wall Street Journal and NBC. If they do employ a social-media expert, the poor sap has the same fate that “web monkeys” held in PR and traditional agencies in 1999. They lack access to the clients, are not participating at a strategic level, and don’t even play nice in the agency sandbox.

This is a sad post, so let’s cheer it up and make it actionable. What can Big Agency (and even the nimbler ones) do to avoid these legitimate traps?


  1. 101 course for every department. Just like everyone at a traditional agency should have a basic understanding of the Internet, so too should they appreciate new forms of media. Not everyone needs to “tweet,” but they should be able to describe a successful case study related to each major media form (Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Digg, and whatever else comes along). They may discover that “social media” can help their department instead of threaten its existence.
  2. Senior champion required. Every agency needs a senior advocate for these innovative new solutions that might otherwise die. His or her job should be to champion these and determine how the agency handles them. Should the media department handle social media, or does it fit better in the strategic, research, or planning group? I’ll give you a hint- this decision is the most vital.
  3. Take small innovation team off billable clock. Someone or a small group should be relieved of billable-hour pressure to identify emerging models — some that may not yet have a profit model, but can help a client’s business. This person or team should share best practices, and know what firms, vendors, consultants solve various problems. In some cases, they can simply educate account teams and connect them with these experts. But if it’s a first-attempt at what may be a high-maintenance project, this team might “run point” to manage the initiative from setting goals to collecting metrics. In many cases, it should educate account teams (and not just those pitching a new assignment), hand the project over, and return to collect the performance… ensuring it’s not redundant to other departments. Some of this work may have already been done on billable time, but if it’s buried in an account team it’s not going to help the new pitch or other client.
  4. Mutual profitability. Niche social-media players (startups and specialty firms) and the large agencies need to figure out how to partner in a mutually beneficial way, and that takes more than driving great results for a client. The “vendor” and the agency both need to have a clear role and profitability. For instance, if Buzzmetrics is better than the agency’s homegrown “web monitoring” solution, than outsource and mark it up (by adding value on the output). If some weird Twitter guru freelance consulting can offer some guidance, give them a seat early and define their boundaries. The freak’s input may help optimize a program, kill it justifiably, or save it from becoming an embarrassing headline.
  5. Pick wisely. Social-media startups (and especially consultants) are sometimes brilliant solo players, but don’t know how to do the jazz ensemble. Others have decided to pursue a niche passion, and have no interest in doing things outside that realm. If Big Agency senses a specialist firm or company wants to be a full-service agency, then one can understand why Big Agency wants them far from their clients.
  6. Make a black & white list. In emerging forms of advertising, there will be winners and losers related to both the medium and the people that executed a program. An agency needs to keep tabs on vendors and programs that succeed and fail. That means tracking both the performance of the medium (YouTube) AND the partner (an online-video specialist) that managed the assignment. A success is probably indicative that both are solid. But a failure could mean one or the other, and knowing the right answer will be important to determine if another attempt is made.
  7. Timing is everything. On one hand, few want to be the first to pilot something new, where it’s hard to predict outcomes much less scope time it will take. When an agency has trouble and a simple project gets bloated, it either needs to reevaluate how it did it… or determine that it’s a cost-prohibitive tactic because of the manpower it consumes. On the other hand, by the time it’s 100% clear that a social-media tactic will work, it’s probably an antiquated one. There’s an old African proverb: “if you wait for the whole beast to appear before throwing the spear, you’re already too late”).

Now I invite you, dear agency and brand readers, to provide your own thoughts (anonymously if you choose, as WordPress can’t track your ISP). You’re so very quiet on this blog that I sometimes worry you’re not reading. Please share! Otherwise I’m only writing for the fun regular commenters I call the WVFF back row.”

Jake Fogelnest Puts Home Phone Number on Web

Jake Fogelnest — who in 1994 started a television show from his New York City bedroom when he was fourteen years old (see clip of Joey Ramone interview on SquirtTV) — put his home phone number on the Internet. Now THAT’S compulsive.

The NYC comedy writer, VH1 guest, and radio host has received thousands of calls from fans and former colleagues who are shocked when he answers or calls them back.

jake fogelnest phone number on twitter

Fogelnest, who hosts a daily show on Sirius, also boasts a writing resume that includes VH1, SNL, and MTV. You may well recognize him as a regular commentator on VH1’s I Love The… series.

Here’s his video explanation about the bold move (see him on YouTube here). We can only imagine what happens when the guys from telemarketing firms, Amway and the “Who’s Who” directories get his number, which is 646-484-5323.

I’ve met Jake through Hitviews, and he’s rather humble despite his hefty experience and tight relationships with the “who’s who” of comedy writing (including Adam McCay). Jake’s an easy going cat, except if you miss a deadline for a Hitviews sponsored video.

We’ll be watching this experiment from a comfortably safe distance, especially given the annoying 4 am ‘private-number’ phone call I received this morning (thanks).