3 Reasons Facebook’s Whatsapp Acquisition Makes Sense

Facebook Acquires Whatsapp for $19B Cash and Stock

Facebook Acquires Whatsapp for $19B Cash and Stock

Does $19 billion sound like a lot of money to spend on a simple chat app? The highly touted acquisition has made the rounds of news journals, chat shows, business sites and social media. Many pundits cry dot com gloom-n-doom once again, and most of them are ignoring the upside. Here are 3 three reasons why Facebook’s acquisition of Whatsapp makes good business sense.

1) The deal only cost the company $4 billion in cash. Plus stock, yes. While it’s technically accurate to call this a $19 billion deal, we’ve got to remember that Facebook only had to fork over 21% in cash. The rest is given as a stake in the FB ownership. And even though doing so dilutes the value for shareholders, the company puts itself at less risk by holding onto as much cash as possible.

2) It builds the subscriber base.  The failure of MySpace (not dead yet, but one foot in the grave) showed us that taking the existing subscriber base for granted, while failing to innovate and acquire, leads to extinction. Facebook’s worldwide subscriber base has, for the last four quarters (Q1 to Q4 2013), been 1.11, 1.15, 1.19 and 1.23 billion respectively. Having Whatsapp on board at Facebook is both offensive and defensive — it ensures that the users who are there primarily to keep in touch don’t abandon Facebook for a competitor like Whatsapp, which has a better chat system than Facebook’s Messenger.

3) It helps Facebook penetrate the mobile space. Facebook started life as a web site, then it become more portal-like, with apps and games. But their revenue model was just maturing as more users began spending time on their mobile devices. Meanwhile, Facebook has struggled to create a mobile user interface that works well and is easy to navigate. Add to that their mobile ad revenue is now more than 50% of total revenue, so embracing the mobile market makes sense.  Whatsapp is only mobile and, whether it becomes integrated with Facebook Messenger or remains separate but compatible, the acquisition ensures subscribers stick around to generate traffic and attract advertisers for Facebook, Inc.

By spending as little cash as possible, boosting their total subscriber base and getting their mobile game on solid footing, Facebook gives themselves a good chance at success.  Monetization will come if they keep their subscribers happy and execute their ad-selling strategy smartly.  Sure there are risks, but perhaps the leadership has learned a thing or two from the dot com bubble.

They’ll keep selling ads as long as we keep coming back.  I don’t see myself closing my Facebook account anytime soon, do you?

Step 4: Get a Media Streaming Device

Step 4: Get a Media Streaming Device

Step 4: Get a Media Streaming Device

Have you been feeling like everyone else around you has figured out this “streaming movies and TV shows” thing, and you are standing on the fringes thinking you’ll eventually figure it out? But so far you haven’t really done anything about it.  So let’s get into some of the products that can help you.  Let’s figure out how to get you a media streaming device.

On February 17, I started a series for “cord cutters”, with a Blog entitled 6 Steps to Cutting the Cord of Cable.  In that, I presented a summary of what would need to be done in order to dump cable or satellite TV in favor of using a combination of Over The Air (OTA) for local stations and Streaming content from the Internet.  In yesterday’s blog, I elaborated on Step 3: Get an Optional Digital Video Recorder.

In today’s blog, I elaborate on Step 4: Get a Media Streaming Device.

You can get streaming services built into the TV, BluRay player or game system.  You can also buy a separate box such as a Roku or AppleTV, or a dongle in ChromeCast.

a) Built into the TV – additional $100
If you read Step 1 of this series, you considered a new TV.  Some are marketed as “Network Ready”.  This generally means you have a set of built-in applications that can get you Netflix, YouTube, hulu+, and perhaps a few other oddball services.  This is great if you only plan to use one or two of these and don’t want to stream through a home theater system.  Otherwise, you’ll want a separate device, and all of the following fit that category.

b) Built into a BluRay player or Game System – $100 to $400
Panasonic, LG, Samsung, Sony and other BluRay players have a Network feature that, when connected to an ethernet or WiFi local area network (LAN) in your home, will access the internet to using many of the apps listed above.  Game systems, such as Xbox and PlayStation 3 (and the new 4) have the same type of functionality.  The benefit of this method is that you will probably be using your BluRay/DVD player or game system anyway, and it’s one less connection to your home theater.  The down side of this is that a component failure kills off two of your functions at the same time.  It may also make upgrades harder to afford.

c) Roku 3 (CNet Review) – $50 to $100
This small black box provides access to the most streaming services of any device known.  The interface has also gotten very good reviews from new users, meaning it should not be too difficult to learn.  With up to 1080p, HDMI, WiFi, 100Mbps Ethernet and a simple remote, this unit will let you watch shows on demand.  The “3” model has the faster processor and will help alleviate frustration when loading apps and shows since many of the previous models were underpowered and most of us have a low tolerance for sluggish technology.

d) Apple TV (CNet Review) – $100
Mac users have known about Apple TV for years, and have continuously thought that the next generation will fix their issues.  But each time the next generation comes out, the product has only been improved marginally and Roku has moved ahead yet again.  It’s like the guy who coughs around the office for weeks but won’t take a couple of days off to actually get well.  Apple has never committed itself to a “get well” program that would make this product completely outstanding, which is really disappointing to people like myself who see the potential, already enjoying the iTunes, video and audio support that is there.  The silver bullet would be a source-neutral interface that lets you find, let’s call them, “viewables” that are in any of the services to which you have access through login credentials.  For example, imagine that you could search for “CSI: Miami” and you don’t have to know which service it came from.  That would be completely amazing, considering how many stream options there are out there.  Lastly, the included AirPlay functionality helps with integration to other devices that support it.

e) Google ChromeCast (CNet Review) – $35
The ChromeCast is a “dongle”, a small device with no cable that plugs into your HDMI slot.  Well, that’s not entirely true since it requires power, so you’ve got to connect a wire to the nearest USB slot, or to a AC converter.  ChromeCast is very good with Google products, such as Play music and video.  Android smart phone users will find this an attractive option for them.  iPhone users will likely gravitate to AppleTV (Mac users) or Roku (PC users).  The next generation ChromeCast will likely be a leap above this one and you would be forgiven if you decided to wait until then to buy one.  One thing is undeniable… they are small and discreet, able to be hidden in the plan of a 6-yr-old child.

I am getting Roku if I buy soon.  If Apple finally releases an update to the AppleTV that is worthy of considering, I’ll probably get that too.  I’m likely to pass on the ChromeCast, unless the next generation is amazing.

Which one is right for you?  It may depend upon your intended use (home theater or simple TV) and what you are currently doing with your smart phone (iPhone vs Android) and home computer (Mac vs PC).  Is it obvious to you by now?

Step 3: Get an Optional Digital Video Recorder

Step 3: Get an Optional Digital Video Recorder

Step 3: Get an Optional Digital Video Recorder

Did you feel like the master of time and space when you first recorded a show to watch it later? Or did you get a thrill the first time you set up your DVR to record some favorite series of re-runs, and then you turned on your DVR to find that the station had a marathon on your show and you wound up with 12 episodes waiting for you?

On February 17, I started a series for “cord cutters”, with a Blog entitled 6 Steps to Cutting the Cord of Cable.  In that, I presented a summary of what would need to be done in order to dump cable or satellite TV in favor of using a combination of Over The Air (OTA) for local stations and Streaming content from the Internet.  In yesterday’s blog, I elaborated on Step 2: Get an Antenna for Over The Air TV.

In today’s blog, I elaborate on Step 3: Get an Optional Digital Video Recorder.

Backtrack: We used to pop in a VHS tape and record shows on a VCR.  This practice was so prevalent that we began using the phrase “…can’t program the VCR…” to imply someone was technologically challenged.  Then came TiVo and it used a hard drive, rather than removable media.  It was such a rush to realize that you could “tivo” 100 shows onto the disk and recall any one you wanted.  It felt like a video jukebox!

The generic term for this device is a Digital Video Recorder (DVR).  A competing brand at the time was ReplayTV.  Meanwhile, the more geeky folks were putting tuner cards or USB tuners on their computer and using software to record shows.  Even as I type this, I have the Elgato EyeTV on my Mac here.  It works well for Standard Definition and it used to work well for High Definition until the cable company began encrypting them (I shake my digital fist at them).

So here we are today… the cable companies and the satellite companies all have an integrated tuner and DVR that they will gladly put in your house for a monthly fee so you can record more shows than you can ever watch.  We’ve got it made.

But, we’re here to cut the cord, so surely there are DVRs for over the air tuning, right?  Surprisingly, the market is somewhat limited.  So, I’ll touch on a few.  Those of you who are complete nerds on this topic will undoubtedly tell me that I didn’t include your favorite model or some home-brew set up.  My answer is that I’m looking at commodity products for general consumers, so let’s run down my list, in order of my personal preference.

° TabloTV (CNet Review)
Comes in 2-tuner and 4-tuner varieties.  Uses your iPad or Android tablet as the remote control.  Plays shows to your TV using a streaming media device (see Step 4 tomorrow).  It will also play to your handheld mobile device, even if you are away from home.  Yes, you can watch your DVR while you’re hanging out at the coffee shop.  Due to this design, you only really need one of these for your whole house, not one for each TV.  The electronic program guide (EPG) that tells you what shows come on when, is a nominal fee (not yet published).  The dual tuner model is $220 before you add your own hard drive.

° Channel Master DVR+ (CNet Review)
16 GB of flash memory to record a couple of shows, and a USB port to add your own external hard drive.  Shaped like a thin crust 11″ square pizza.  The DVR+ has an HDMI jack so you can connect directly to your TV and you don’t need a streaming content box.  To get the program guide, you’ll need to hook it up to ethernet or buy a WiFi dongle.  The free program guide is appealing to those who want to avoid recurring costs of any kind.  The device is $250 without the external hard drive.

° TiVo Roamio (CNet Review)
500 GB built-in memory will record 75 HD shows.  Hooks directly to your TV.  Absolutely the best remote control I’ve ever used in my life.  The box is not much bigger than a BluRay player and the user interface is very good, including streaming services.  It requires a pricey subscription for the guide content and has built-in WiFi so you can download the guide and stream shows. The base box is $200 and the lifetime subscription for the guide is $500.

The DVR is an optional part of being a cord cutter.  But if you’ve ever gotten used to a DVR with cable or satellite, I’m betting you’ll have withdrawals if you try to go without a DVR.  Live TV is maddening for me these days.

You can go without, but honestly, don’t.  Part of cutting the cord is to experience the elation of freedom.  Don’t be a slave to live TV.  Get a DVR and pay for the electronic program guide.

Step 2: Get an Antenna for Over The Air TV

Step 2: Get an Antenna for Over The Air TV

Step 2: Get an Antenna for Over The Air TV

In the 1970s, I used to tune in channels 5 and 11 with rabbit ears and channel 28 with a loop or bow tie that was clipped onto one of the ears.  In the 1980s, we got 35 cable channels using an old Zenith tuner that had red LED numbers on the front.  In the 1990s, we had about 60 channels and the TVs had the tuner built in.  In the 2000s, we got hundreds of channels and high definition came along.

On February 17, I started a series for “cord cutters”, with a Blog entitled 6 Steps to Cutting the Cord of Cable.  In that, I presented a summary of what would need to be done in order to dump cable or satellite TV in favor of using a combination of Over The Air (OTA) for local stations and Streaming content from the Internet.  In yesterday’s blog, I elaborated on Step 1: Start with a High Definition Television (HDTV).

In today’s blog, I elaborate on Step 2: Get an Antenna for Over The Air TV.

a) You will need a good UHF antenna to pick up digital stations. 

Those “rabbit ears” I spoke of earlier form what’s called a dipole antenna, which is tuned for channels 2 through 13, whose signals live in the space known as Very High Frequency (VHF) band.  The loop or bow tie is designed to pick up signals in the Ultra High Frequency (UHF) band.

Cord cutters need to understand how the digital age has taken over these frequencies.  From 2006 to 2009, broadcasters began transitioning their stations to HD content and digitally encoded transmissions.  Since digital protocol contains a new layer of channel abstraction, the digital transmission for a low channel number, e.g. 5, was set to be simulcast on a previously unused UHF channel, e.g. 54.  It then self-identified as 5.1 (or sometimes 5-1) to indicate that it was the primary (.1) channel in the family (5).  Similarly, 5.2 and 5.3 would represent two other channels in the 5 family.

Today, all of the analog broadcasting has been shut down (as of 2009).  Many never bothered to transfer back down in the VHF range.  So all of the digital stations are UHF and, thus, require a UHF antenna to pick up the stations.  There are exceptions, such as channel 11 in the Raleigh-Durham market, but that’s the only one in the area today.

Because UHF carries nearly all the digital content, a so-called “digital antenna” is nothing more than a UHF antenna.  That’s right, the technology for a digital antenna is old school.  This explains why they are all either bow ties, yagis (the parallel aluminum rods) or loops (keep in mind that often these shapes are hidden in a flat plastic sleeve in order to hide ugly wire).

b) Mount your antenna as high as you can.

In some cases, you may have to simply place the antenna on the table top or attach it to the wall.  But if you can run coaxial cable up to the attic or outside to a mast, you’ll get better reception.  Incidentally, if you’ve never experienced it… digital weak signals manifest themselves as blocky and jumpy pictures, or blackouts, rather than “snow”.  Satellite owners will recognize this as the same look as when a heavy rain is passing over their dish outside.

c) Aim your antenna towards your primary towers.

In the Raleigh, NC area, the big towers are east of Garner, just past the NC-70 and I-40 intersection.  You can find local towers by using antenna web. Once you figure out the compass direction, you can aim your antenna the same way by remembering that 0° is due North, 90° is due East, and so on.  Use a compass app in your smart phone to figure out the angle relative to your house.  Put down a piece of tape on the floor until you get a solid signal.

To aim a bow tie antenna, think about someone wearing it.  The front is the flat side, so “face” the tower.  Aiming a loop is the same — flat side faces the tower.  To aim a yogi antenna, the type depicted in my graphic at the top of this blog, it’s more like pointing your finger… point the skinniest part of the antenna at the tower.

d) Mount your antenna as high as you can.

Objects in the way can degrade the signal, so anything below 6′ high, furniture, humans, wires, etc. will affect the signal.  If it’s too difficult to run the cable out of the room, mount the antenna up the wall, near the ceiling or near a window.  If you can get up to the attic or outside on a mast, those a better.  Don’t worry about the weather for outdoor-rated antennas.  They are going to survive basic rain and snow and sun.

If you live in a fairly remote area, you should really think about a mast strapped to the chimney, mounted on a pole or bolted to the side of the house.  You need to go high so you can pick up signals that float above the tree line.

e) Get the right amount of gain in your antenna.

This may be the most technical part of this write-up.  Gain is the term used to describe the natural signal amplification that occurs when the radio frequencies that propagate over the air strike the metallic antenna and create a signal resonance that gets transmitted down the cable to the tuner or TV.

Gain is measured in decibels (dB).  Home-use antennas range from 3dB to 20dB.  The further you are from the big towers, the more gain you’ll need from your antenna.  You can also boost your antenna with an AC-powered amplifier.  My rule of thumb, figure out which antenna you think you will need and then get the next one up (more dB gain), because your instinct will be to get an antenna that is one size too small.  Trust me, it happens.

One word of caution, remember that marketing statements like, “Picks Up Signals Up To 50 Miles” are fraught with hype.  What they mean is, “In a perfect environment, such as across the flat plains of Nebraska, when the weather is perfect and your antenna is outside, on top of your house 47.9 miles away, we calculate, using antenna theory formulas, that you should get enough signal so you won’t have any problems, so we round off to 50 and use the phrase ‘up to’ so you can’t sue us for false advertising.”  Take their lowest number stated and divide it in half to be safe, since you have to account for real life obstacles between you and the transmitting tower.

f) Get the biggest antenna that you won’t completely hate because it’s so big.

I really believe the antenna is not the item you want to try and save $20 on.  Nothing ruins a good TV watching experience like blocks, chunks, freezes and blackouts.  Even though there is some looseness in the “bigger is better” rule here, generally speaking, the bigger antennas have more gain.  Antennas that cost under $30 are mostly worthless because you can make one just as good with supplies around the house.

If you are crafty and adventurous, you can make your own DIY antenna from aluminum foil, coat hanger, cardboard and tape.  There are several out there to try, but here is one example.  The bow tie (or cat’s whiskers) style seem to give the best results for minimal effort.  Doing it yourself can be a fun project, especially if you involve you child in the project.  Note that the numbers matter a lot, so if it says cut the wire to 18.125″, make sure you are as accurate as you can be.

Have fun with it.  Once you have the antenna, you can hook it directly to the TV and start auto-tuning your TV.  The excitement of getting free stations once again, just like “ye olden days”, should invigorate you to start counting the money that you’re no longer spending on cable or satellite subscriptions!

Step 1: Start with a High Definition Television (HDTV)

Start with a High Definition Television (HDTV)

Start with a High Definition Television (HDTV)

On February 17, I started a series for “cord cutters”, with a Blog entitled 6 Steps to Cutting the Cord of Cable.  In that, I presented a summary of what would need to be done in order to dump cable or satellite TV in favor of using a combination of Over The Air (OTA) for local stations and Streaming content from the Internet.

In today’s blog, I elaborate on Step 1: Start with a High Definition Television (HDTV).

It’s hard to believe that just 10 years ago, I updated my TV to a Sony WEGA model that had a flat display (it was still a CRT), 480p (progressive scan), and could handle a 16:9 aspect ratio by putting black bars at the top and bottom. I was able to get very nice pictures with a progressive scan DVD player and later with a digital tuner box if connected into the component (RGB) jacks.

Today, LCD, plasma and LED screens are common.  They provide flat screen viewing, high definition resolution at 720p and 1080p with HDMI inputs.  The network-enabled versions can handle streaming content right there in the TV, without the need for an external box (to be covered in Step 4).  With sizes ranging from 20″ to 72″ diagonal screen measurement, they cover the whole range of table top and wall-mounted options.

While you can certainly make this whole setup work with 480 lines of resolution on a 4:3 standard definition TV, I don’t recommend it.  You’ll be missing out on the joy of crisp images and modern connectivity.  Some may tell you that you need to have 1080 lines, but my experience is that 720 is fine up to 45″ diagonal.

Then there are the technology options… should you get LCD, Plasma or LED?  These represent different methods of making the color picture elements (pixels) on the screen.  I’ve never been so techno-elitest that I can’t be happy with LCD, which has been around the longest and can be more affordable in the smaller sizes.  Plasma tends to have brighter colors and blacker blacks, and may be the best value today.  LED is the newest and usually costs more, but I’m not convinced the price differential is worth it.  The best advice I can give you here is to not spend as much time worrying about this as many people do.  In the end, you’ll care more about things like viewing angle, i.e. how far to the side can you still see the picture clearly?

If you are buying new, it’s worth considering getting an Internet-ready TV that can stream Netflix and other services directly into your TV.  I don’t own any of these, but it does cut down on the number of boxes and remote controls and that’s good for my parents, who have learned to use Netflix on their TV.  Sometimes simplicity rules.

In the end, you should expect to spend anywhere from $200 to $2000 on a TV.  You can overpay for a brand (Sony, Samsung), or go cheap on an off-brand (Insignia, Sceptre) that you might dislike once you begin to use it.  Middle of the road brands (Panasonic, LG, Vizio) are generally good safe value brands.  Just check the buyer comments and ratings before choosing a model.

For the record, I have two Samsung TVs, which I bought on sale in 2007, mounted on the walls and have never had a problem with either of them.  I also have an Optoma HD20 projector in the bonus room, now The Movie Room, which is mounted upside down on the ceiling.  I built a screen for the wall and installed a home theater sound system.  Pictures are up in my Facebook photo album for those of you who have access to my photo albums.

My plan is to use the existing TVs that I own now — I won’t be buying any new TVs.  But you might have to, so do a little homework and let me know if you have any questions.

For more on TV Dimensions, click here.

6 Steps to Cutting the Cord of Cable

A Modern Home Network Can Enable Streaming Content Without Paying Monthly Cable or Satellite TV Bills

A Modern Home Network Can Enable Streaming Content Without Paying Monthly Cable or Satellite TV Bills

In these days of on-demand streaming services and high-speed Internet access, do you wonder why you pay so much for hundreds of channels that you don’t watch?  Do you wonder why you can’t just choose a la carte the channels you watch most?

I did.  So I began the quest of planning out what it would take to make the big switch and “cut the cord.”  I’m starting from having Time Warner’s Signature Service, which includes Ultra Broadband Internet (50/5 Mbps), Unlimited VoIP Telephone within the Continental U.S., and HD TV with 2 DVRs that can share shows.

Your process will vary depending on your starting point and where you want to end up, but here are the steps that will approximate a replacement to cable TV.  Over the next several days, I’ll elaborate on each of these steps, but for now, I’ll stick to a single paragraph and you can use this as a summary.

1) Start with a High Definition Television (HDTV)
Most new TVs have a built-in digital tuner and HDMI input.  Let’s call this step “table stakes”.  If you’ve never replaced your old “glass” TV, stop reading now and go get yourself something like this Vizio from Walmart for under $200.  You can spend up to $2000 on a TV, but this post will be much better if we assume this is in place before we go any further.

2) Get an Antenna for Over The Air TV – $20 to $100
There are lots of options for digital antennas, and more than half of them are mediocre at best. My favorite style antennas are the multiple bow tie that can be used for 95% of the HD stations.  There are others that can work and I’ll go into details in a future post.

3) Get an Optional Digital Video Recorder – $200 to $400 plus guide service fees
TiVo was the first big dog to this party, to the point that, back in 2003, the word “tivo” was being used a verb, meaning “to record television show on a hard drive in digital form for later viewing.”  There are newcomers to this market now that have reinvented this market and are worth considering.  This will also be part of a future post.

4) Get a Media Streaming Device – $35 to $200
There are three primary competitors for this, Apple TV, Roku and ChromeCast, although there are lots of options.  They help put your content on your TV.  Many BluRay players and game systems come with network apps that provide interfaces to many content providers, which leads to the last two steps…

5) Get a WiFi N Router – $40 to $60
Many of us have had G-speed routers (802.11g), which supports 54Mbps shared bandwidth, but if you want to have multiple wireless streaming devices in your home network, it’s really better to be running at N-speed (802.11n).  Doing so will ensure you minimize any video streaming jitter and buffering.  Of course, you can avoid this need if you run Cat5 ethernet cables to your devices, but many devices today are WiFi only.

6) Create Logins and Subscribe to Streaming Services – $10 to $50 per month
Streaming services give you content on demand, which means you can start it, pause it and finish it anytime that is convenient to you.  The easiest way to introduce this topic is by example, so here are some that you probably have heard of: Netflix, Hulu+, Amazon Prime and vudu.  There are many others, specializing in niche content, such as Mexican soccer, NBA, old westerns, YouTube videos and independent films.  Some are free, some require subscriptions that are usually less than $10/month.

Those are the five steps that you need to evaluate in order to cut yourself loose from Time Warner Cable TV, DirecTV, Dish Network or AT&T Uverse and replace them with Internet-based content.  In each of five future posts, I will dedicate to the above five steps.

Take your time to plan your attack.  Read my future posts for ideas on the steps and map out your transition along with me.

4 Valentine Arrows in Your Brain

Advertisers Fire Valentine's Day Arrows Into Your Brain

Advertisers Fire Valentine’s Day Arrows Into Your Brain

Fellow Men:  For the last several days on television, have advertisers been firing arrows at your brain, hoping you’ll buy their products?  After all, you don’t want to be “that guy” that buys something lame, or worse, nothing at all.

One says skip the candy, because she’ll ask if she looks fat.  Another says skip the flowers, because they die in a few days.  What’s a guy to do when these companies are marketing directly at you mind, hoping to convince you to spend your money on their product, and telling you that doing so is the surefire way to get through Valentine’s Day unscathed.

These 4 advertisers seem to be spending lots of marketing budget doing just that.

1) Vermont Giant Teddy Bear – For only $99 you can give her a 4-foot tall teddy bear that “she will love because it will remind her of you when you’re not there.”  The funniest part of this TV commercial is when the man is getting his hug and mouths (to the camera) in slow motion, “Oh yeah…”  But ask yourself if this kind of gift really makes sense.  Don’t believe the marketing hype.  It’s not the size of the gift.  It’s what thought you put into it.  Chances are this will go over with more of a quizzical look that the same elated face as the actress on the commercial.

2) ProFlowers – It’s hard to go too wrong with flowers, but wouldn’t it be better to go pick them out yourself, than to order off the internet?  Besides, if you don’t know what flower your lady likes, shouldn’t you find out first?  So make a note to ask her randomly this June and make a note of it.  Then you’ll be prepared for next year.

3) 800-Flowers – Originally set up for phone orders, these folks contract with local flower delivery shops.  Word to the wise… they local shops don’t always deliver what’s ordered, sometimes different, sometimes smaller.  Buyer beware.

4) Pajamagram – Adult HoodieFootie purveyor.  Really?  You should really watch this commercial multiple times and break it down.  Analyze it.  They are appealing to your… let’s be honest here… hope that there will be some intimate times soon to follow.  If that doesn’t set off your alarm bells that you’re being targeted as a sucker consumer, I don’t know what will.  If you’re going this route, go with a gift card to a store that sells similar items and let her pick out what she wants, not what you want.

These advertisers’ arrows are aimed directly at your brain because they know that men are notoriously bad at Valentine’s Day, or at least are highly self-conscious about it, and we tend to either be oblivious to that fact, or aware and anxious that we’ll get it wrong.  But you don’t need those ads… the secret is not that complicated.

Pay attention to her all year so you know what she likes, change it up a little bit every year, and never ever forget to include a card that expresses how you feel about her.  And it never hurts to start the day off with breakfast, or at least, all of last night’s dishes clean.

“…be intoxicated always in her love.”  — Proverbs 5:19

Do you think you have better plans than falling for a TV ad?