Videos With the Personal Touch

If you aren’t familiar with Kickstarter, it is an online startup-funding site. The official description is “a funding platform for creative projects.” It’s a chance to invest in projects and products for regular folks. You don’t need a ton of dough to participate and there are some very unique opportunities. Paticipants are given a chance to showcase their project or product and are allowed a certain amount time to reach their funding target goal.

One such project is Spark. The device they are looking to manufacture provides the ability to control lights via the internet. Think turning lights on and off with your smartphone or a light flashing when you receive a text message. While I had chance to meet the founder of this company, Zach Supalla, and was immediately impressed with him, what drew me to the project was the video they made.

Think about this, your company is given a short amount of time to convince someone, most likely someone who has know idea who you are, to invest money in your project. How are you going to find a way to tell your story…convincingly…quickly.

I think Zach pulled it off by putting together a video that accomplished many things in a short amount of time:

  • He showed his enthusiasm, knowledge and sincerity without doing anything fancy. No stunts, no comedy, just him talking to the camera.
  • He created a connection with the viewer by sharing a very personal story about his deaf father and the important role light played in everyday communication.
  • He didn’t get bogged down in the tech and spent his time more in the experience.

Zach also has a compelling demo set up to serve as s next step in using his device. It started with a lighting a light in their office via Twitter and now, controlling the holiday display at his house.

The next time you do a video in hopes of convincing someone…whether it’s to invest money, buy a product, or give you a call…think about keeping it real, personal and sincere. You’ll see some great results.

EVO Woos Me Into Early Adoption

Unlike Angelina Jolie, it takes me awhile to decide to adopt something…and it’s no easy task for me to make a commitment to the first generation of anything. However, I did just that. I am the proud owner of a new HTC EVO. Yep, it’s true. I got up early stood in line, endured the slow computers at my Sprint store, plunked down my $299 (accepting the hassle of the mail-in rebate) and walked out on the cutting edge of mobile…at least until Monday afternoon when Steve Jobs rolled out iPhone 4.

Why the EVO? Well, in fact, my experience with the HTC Incredible, which I reviewed here a view weeks back, paved the way for my decision. Rather than list all of the features that this Android device offers, I’ll just highlight those that were more appealing about the EVO.

First, size was a consideration for me…go ahead, I’ll wait patiently while you make the compulsory “size matters” jokes…done?..OK. As I noted, the Incredible was just a bit too streamlined for me and the EVO is substantially larger in over all size to accommodate the 4.3″ screen. I like the feel of this phone in my rather long hands. Though it might be just a bit too big, I can deal with that in light of the larger screen. And while the display as Breon Nagy points out, isn’t quite as crisp as the smaller device, it’s still light years ahead of my coal-fired Treo 755p.

Another plus for the EVO is the front facing camera. With a Qik app and a Skype app on the way, I like the ability to do some video conferencing wherever I am. I know, Mr. Jobs rolled out Facetime for the iPhone 4 just days after the EVO launch. But that’s still on the less than stellar AT&T network. By the way, the 8 megapixel rear-facing camera still comes in higher than Apple’s 5 megapixel version.

What really sealed the deal for me was much more simple than all of this combined-Sprint service. As I mentioned more than once, I am a long-time Sprint customer and the pricing made it easy for me to add the EVO to my other three phones. Even with some poor past history and the extra $10.00 a month for the increased data, it was much cheaper to stay rather than jump to Verizon..even with there superior (or so people say)  network. Add to that the kick-butt service I got from Evan (props) at the Sprint store in Apple Valley on past upgrades and the pending launch of 4G here in the Twin Cities and hopping on the train to EVO-land was a no-brainer.

Though I never suspected I would be “one of those guys” who waited in line for the first gadget (in my daughter’s words, “nerd alert”) I had a great time on launch day. Check out the video of the morning’s events below. And look for the top of this early-adopters head at the next conference as I tweet, surf and snap on my state-of-the-art (for now) smartphone.

Catching Up With Chris

On his recent visit to the Twin Cities I grabbed lunch with Chris Brogan. Chris, President of New Marketing Labs and a Social Media Rock star, enjoyed a Juicy Lucy and brought me up to date with his latest adventures.

There are a growing list of Social Media Experts out there, but Chris is the real deal when it comes to listening, learning, and doing. He also goes further than most in sharing and teaching and he remains very accessible and approachable.

Chris, thanks for clogging my arteries and filling my brain.

If Video Seems Daunting…

…relax. In fact, remain calm. As promised in my post on who’s using video (what I called the wind-up), I wanted to share a second interview, the pitch, with Steven Rosenbaum from

In this discussion I asked Steven to review his presentation and outline ways to overcome the “three boogeymen” also known as the reasons many avoid using video in our personal or business brand online strategy.

  • Video is too expensive
  • Raw user generated content isn’t brand safe.
  • Filtering the web is too much work.


Don’t Be a Billy: Staying Safe Online

I have fond memories of the Encyclopedia Britannica films back in school. It always meant completely outdated clothing and actors teaching us about everything from science to hygiene. Heck, it was only slightly more modern than a film-strip. (Ding!)

That's why this little number compliments of really struck home. One of my favorite film genres addressing an important topic.

It also got me in the mood for a little education a la Goofy.

Who’s Into Online Video and What Are They Watching?

At recent gathering presented by Co-OperativeLabs here in Minneapolis the topic of online video was discussed. The two presenters, Bill Hague ofFrank N. Magid Associates and Steven Rosenbaum of, offered a sort of wind-up and pitch approach in their individual presentations. In this post I’ll concentrate on the wind-up, information shared from a Magid research project, and we’ll address the pitch, an approach to using video content from Steven, in a future post.

Bill offered some interesting insight on the topic of who is consuming online video and toward what types of video they are gravitating. Bill himself addresses the high points in this video. I’ll highlight some further info below.

Please note: The survey questions were asked of people who use the internet.

Beyond what Bill mentions in the video interview I found some of the perceptions of advertising in online video interesting. (Click the graphs to make them big enough to read.)

In general, the study indicates very strong growth in online video audience across all demographics with (surprise) the younger audience being the biggest fans. But from a marketing perspective, with great opportunity comes some risk. Especially when “traditional” advertising is looked at.

Though not highlighted in the Key Findings portion of the presentation I think it’s important to note that though 45% of respondents who view online video content find advertising “as acceptable” as TV ads, 20% say ads are “less acceptable” and 28% weren’t “sure”.  With nearly 50% of respondents that are either opposed or unsure about advertising there are some pretty high negative attitudes toward ads in this space. I would assert those negative ads have been precipitated by TV’s over saturation of commercials in programming. Too many ads is what the viewer is trying to get away from.

Further, when probing respondents about ad type and location, 43% prefer a short ad and 28% said no ads were acceptable. Also, take a look at the numbers as they pertain to where ads are placed. Thinking about interrupting their online viewing? I’d think again. In fact, you may need to think more about more unobtrusive types of marketing including product placement or other emerging ad vehicles.


By the way, what about those folks who don’t want to watch online video? The biggest barrier noted here is screen size…not technology or quality. We just loves our big screens, don’t we.

Finally, for those TV execs sweating hand grenades about losing viewers to online…yeah, it’s happening. 20% of online video viewers (extrapolated to 14% of total population) are spending less time on the tube. As the study points out “online cannibalization is small but significant.” It’s good to know that there are a fair amount of us that site in front of the TV with our laptops with over 50% go online while watching TV.

Based on this research, here’s what you should consider when including video in your online presence or marketing mix.

  • Make it short!
  • Be confident in reaching an audience beyond just “the kids”.
  • America’s screen time is increasing with watching TV and using the internet at the same time becoming more popular.
  • Watching TV is still top dog but it’s clear the pie is going to be cut differently.
  • Be careful how you handle ads. It’s time to think differently. With the huge amount of professionally generated and user generated content out there, it’s easy for your viewer to look for something else if you cram too many ads down there throat.

Download the slide deck of the presentation here and let me know what you think.


When YouTube Just Isn’t Enough

The past weekend was chocked full of a media coverage of America’s “Balloon Boy”. The past four days saw a story turn from a two hour chase of a runaway balloon and the finding of a six year old safe at home to a hoax hatched to land a family on a TV reality show. Whatever the story, it does beg the question, “When is YouTube not enough?”

It’s obvious that the free and easy access to user generated content, whether that be blogs, photos, audio or video, serves the narcissism in all of us. But for some who want to be “on TV” the small screen of on line video just isn’t enough to satisfy the need to be in the spotlight. It also should say a lot to those in television that they are the still the big leagues, or bigger screen, of public display. Good news for a medium that worries about it’s future.

Take the case of Richard Heene (and I’m just supposin’ here since as of this writing there are officially no charges filed against the Heene family. Though the odd history of Mr. Heene’s media exploits does make it quite easy to assume his guilt…I know I have.) Here is a guy who has posted plenty of YouTube videos. Everything from “science programs” to rants about Hilary Clinton or Britney to his kids rap video.

That exposure on line doesn’t appear to have been enough. No, he wanted to be on the “bigger screen”. He managed to get himself and his wife on Wife Swap, a show that really is YouTube on TV.

That appears to have only whet his appetite for video infamy. One episode of public embarrassment is nothing compared to continuous coverage by every cable or news network with easy access to a feed from a helicopter. The key to secure such video creamy goodness? A child. And Mr. Heene had three. We’re all aware of the success of that strategy. It was success after all, with entire chunks of TV programming still being devoted to the Heenes.

In reality we are all responsible for this rather pitiful display, but don’t beat yourself up. We have the perfect structure for enabling the video narcissist in all of us. A media landscape that includes multiple 24 hour cable outlets and networks that struggle to draw viewers from a myriad of new outlets that are hungry for content that can help them do that. In fact, many of these outlets are more often looking to YouTube for content. Rarely does the the Today show let a day go by without featuring some sort of on line viral phenomenon, the Wedding Dance and Lion Reunion are just a sample, and we eat it up.

We watch it so much that we guarantee that there will be plenty more to come. Add to that all those companies that are asking, “How can we make a viral video?” and there’s a good chance it will be well staged, manufactured, and distributed while making money for somebody.

Speaking of money, it seems that the reason behind the “Balloon Boy” incident was to secure a reality show deal for the Heene family, something one would assume carried a chance to earn Jon and Kate type money. To bad Mr. Heene didn’t think this through a bit more. A well-placed logo on his balloon would have netted him tidy bit of dough.

Then again, I don’t think that’s what he’s in it for. Do you?


Radio: Welcome Back Your New Audience

Attention radio: Today Steve Jobs is offering up a whole new audience to you. OK, it’s not a new audience, it’s an audience that has been lost to downloadable music…the parade of internet sites, streams and mp3 players. The leader of which is the iPod. Since it came out so many millions of units sold ago (100 million Nanos alone.), Apple has steadfastly refused to include an FM radio with it…until today.

During the Apple “It’s Only Rock and Roll” event a healthy and reinvigorated Steve Jobs made the announcement along with others including the release of iTunes 9 and iPhone OS 3.1.

The new generation of iPod Nano now comes with an FM radio and a video camera. Radio Rejoice! I’ll let others spend time on why they think Jobs has changed course.

Most importantly, radio, here is your challenge…welcome these disenfranchised listeners back with content that they will love and spend time with. Think about it! The single most popular device that has kept listener’s ears away from your radio station now includes your station as a choice. Now those iPod users that are tired of listening to their library, are tired of hitting the skip button, and don’t have time to download anything new can listen to your content…without removing their ever-present ear-buds.

I believe the course is clear! Make sure your content is something they can love.

Adventures in Video

I’ve spent a lot of the last few weeks…even few months…doing more with video. I’m really loving doing more with a medium I really haven’t done much with since college. And yes, it has taken me away from blogging regularly here. (Insert Social Media guilt here.)

Over the last couple of years I’ve managed to get a real kick out of using Animoto and some other services to build elaborate slide shows with some soundtracks, but beyond that I’ve been more of a viewer than producer.

That changed for a couple of reasons. First, my adventures with Minnov8 have allowed me to do some interviewing with members of the interactive community and some “man on the street” stuff here in the Twin Cities. It offers a nice change from a straight forward interview article/post format. And frankly, doing this stuff along with my friend and colleague Steve Borsch, it has proven to be a blast…not to mention working with guys like Brian Stemmler and 612authentic is also a treat.

The second reason for this new zeal for video was the purchase of my Flip Mino HD. From chronicling my trip to SXSWi to interviews, like the one I did for Localtone Radio, to filming family events I’m happy to report that I haven’t had to hoist the antique handy cam to my eye for quite awhile. The Mino has allowed me to take video I wouldn’t normally have considered because of the inconvenience and iMovie has allowed me to do some editing as well.


I’ve even done some aggregating and embedding of video for many of the projects I’m involved in like ComicTwit.

I suggest that you spend some more time experimenting and integrating video into your online travails. You’ll find it will provide a more personal touch and bring some refreshing change to any static text or photo projects you’re involved in…whether it’s original or shared content.

Road trip! From MXMW to SXSW

I’ll be taking a break from the sunny climes of Minnesota (-4 as of this writing…sheesh!) to head to South By Southwest Interactive.

Through my involvement in radio I’ve known about the SXSW Music Festival for years, but never had the chance to “make the scene.” (Yep, channeling Linc form Mod Squad again.) Before the birth of RemainComm and the founding of Localtone Systems, I had never known there was an interactive festival as well. So the lure of interactive, a huge music scene, and some warmer weather, has inspired me to load up the laptop and head south.

Look for posts, pictures and video from the event throughout the coming week, both here and at Minnov8. I’l pass along some of the highlights and share what I find during my first full on trip into one of the epic events in geekdom (I say that lovingly.) and perhaps some fun along the way!

If you’re headed to SXSW yourself, let me know with a tweet to @philson.

Viral Video Where You’re the Star

I came across this the other day and thought it was one of the better viral videos I’ve seen. It’s timely, it allows you to become part of the video and it’s fun. It also allows it’s originator, Paltalk, to accopmplish many goals.

Not only does it brand PalTalk throughout the piece, it also enables users to forward it to a friend or many friends, embed it in a blog or website further spreading the name. Most importantly it harvests a multitude of names and e-mail addresses and offers users to opt in for info about Paltalk.

It’s good to see a company adopting a relatively new marketing tactic and remembering it’s about the user!

Now, if I can just find a way to be in a commercial with Britney and Paris…

New Media, New Year Resolutions

This year, I will…

everything I can to make the adoption of “new media” as easy for everyone as
possible. We “early adopters” can’t forget that most folks are still digesting
the internet as a whole, much less all it has to offer. There is so much more
going on than Google, iTunes, and text messaging.


there is a difference between sending a message and conversing. Spend more time
talking face to face or on the phone with people. Text, e-mail, etc. are great
for quick thoughts but can never replace the emotion of a great conversation.

 …work to
improve the quality and the content in my writing. I write more now than I have
in years and I want my blog posts to be more than articles. I want them to inform,
inspire, and entertain all at the same time. (Okay, this one is going to take a
lot of work.)

 …work to
improve the quality of the audio online. I was listening to my son’s iPod the other
day and realized that we’ve taught people to settle for audio quality that is,
to put it politely, not so great. When we adopted the CD we sacrificed some depth
to our audio, just as we did when we started using audio tape. Now that we are
using the internet as our main source of music we have sacrificed even more or
that sound quality. I heard a record the other day and I was blown away by the
sound I had been missing. If you have some vinyl around you should do the same.
(If you have no idea what a record is, please seek one out…maybe your attic?) I
had become use to the sound of an mp3, probably downloaded a terrible bit rate.
I will do whatever I can to hear more of what the musicians and performers
worked so hard to put into their recordings.

 …work to
improve the quality of video online. The same challenge faces us with what we
see online. With the advent of HDTV the bar has been raised even higher. What I
see on my Smartphone should look just as good as what I see on cable.

advertisers that the “new media” audience is of incredibly high quality and is
worth more than a traditional media user. There are already scores of studies  highlighting the incredibly high recall rates for online
advertising (even higher with a mix of media), we need to get the advertisers to respect that and think beyond “cost per

…enjoy more
time outside the ether so that I can bring more reality into it. Pull myself
out of the screen, away from the keyboard, and off the cell phone. I need to go
outside and take a walk whenever I can. In fact, there’s a new layer of snow
and a crisp morning waiting for me right now…

Happy New Year!

This post can also be found on the Association of Downloadable Media site.