The State of Online Video: 4 Takeaways from VidCon Australia (Guest)

By James Creech, Paladin

After conferences in Amsterdam and Anaheim, Melbourne may have seemed an odd choice for this year’s third VidCon event. Despite its small population, Australia has an emerging digital video scene with enormous opportunity, though it lags behind leading video markets like the U.K., Mexico, Brazil, Turkey, and Vietnam. But don’t count Australia out.

Australia Has More in Common with the West than APAC

There’s a reason VidCon organizers chose to host an event in the Land Down Under: Australia boasts some of the highest CPMs and strongest content export value in the world. A sample of Aussie creator data analyzed using the Paladin platform reveals that Australian influencers’ watch time, viewership, and monetized playbacks (the leading indicators of audience engagement and monetization) typically consists of 15% – 18% Australian viewers. In fact, Aussie creator content is overwhelmingly consumed in the U.S. with Canada, Germany, and the U.K. (all high CPM regions) coming up close behind.

Australia has historically been a large part of traditional media’s APAC strategy, but when it comes to digital, the data reveals it’s much more closely aligned with the West. No wonder American media companies like Fullscreen, Studio71, and Kin Community are all making inroads in Australia.

This Western alignment was reflected at the conference, which included little to no representation from Asian media interests. This is perhaps not surprising, given the great distance and high cost of traveling to Australia as well as competition from concurrent regional events. Whereas a decade ago Australia would have been considered a jumping off point for Western media businesses operating in APAC, today Singapore and Hong Kong fill that role.

Agencies Want In On the Influencer Marketing Action

VidCon Australia included a strong showing from creative, advertising, and PR agencies, all of which are looking to get a slice of the lucrative influencer marketing pie. It also reinforced a sentiment I heard from local market experts: the Australian influencer space lacks defined roles, creating confusion about who represents talent and how advertisers can best work with them.

To be fair, there is much to be resolved about influencer marketing roles around the world. Australia is likely experiencing something similar to the state of the U.S. industry two or three years ago. Of course, opportunity can lie in the midst of confusion. Agency attendees are rightly present to stake their claim.

Everyone’s Talking about Instagram

As with this year’s flagship VidCon event in Anaheim, the Australian conference was abuzz about the photo-sharing app turned video monolith. Instagram’s Jackson Williams, who oversees emerging talent partnerships, delighted attendees with heartwarming user videos and a lively QA. He shared information about Instagram’s new Live with Friends feature, two-factor authentication for enhanced security, and comment moderation filters. Williams also boasted that Lilly Singh’s Instagram stories now drive more views to her YouTube videos than any other source — impressive, certainly, though the ability to link to external sites is only available to a select number of creators today. It wasn’t all positive: some aspiring influencers in the room described growing pains as Instagram becomes more saturated, noting difficulties surfacing their content through  the Discover page or in a hashtag search.

Jackson Williams (Strategic Partnerships at Instagram) addresses VidCon Australia attendees.

But while everybody’s talking about Instagram, Facebook didn’t even bother showing up. After Facebook representatives failed to appear for the Saturday Lunch with Facebook session, VidCon organizers were left to sort out a last-minute replacement panel. Surprisingly, the world’s largest social networking site received much less attention in Melbourne than it did in either Amsterdam or Anaheim this year. In fact, the Industry track only featured one event dedicated to Facebook Video, compared to five panels on the power of YouTube.

Affiliate Marketing Is the Next Frontier for Creator Monetization

In the midst of a challenging year for ad monetization, creators are eagerly seeking new revenue opportunities. Accordingly, the New Business Models for Online Video panel emphasized the growing opportunity for affiliate marketing in online video. Amazon, Shopify, and other online retailers are opening up a new path to monetization for creators, whether it’s Team 10 selling a million dollars in merch each month or Michelle Phan building makeup subscription service Ipsy into a beauty e-tailing powerhouse. The good news: as affiliate marketing and other incremental revenue streams gain strength, the number of professional creators making $100,000 or more annually continues to grow 50% year over year.

Parents Are the Real Heroes

Finally, there are a few things all global VidCon events have in common: screaming tweens, and selfie sticks. To all the brave parents who traveled far and wide, waited in lines, and paid for overpriced meals all in the name of keeping their kids happy, I commend you. As part of the Industry track it’s easy to focus on the business of online video, but it’s also good to remember why we do it: to connect creators and fans and help the next generation of digital stars build a sustainable business doing what they love.

Australian video fans line up for creator meetups, brand booths, and more at this year’s inaugural VidCon AUS event in Melbourne.

James Creech is the Co-Founder CEO of Paladin, the essential creator management platform for digital media companies. Follow James on LinkedIn and check out his podcast All Things Video for more insights into the online video industry.

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