Australia is very unique when it comes to the adoption of usage of new technology. In some respects, Australia is a nation of early adopters, especially when it comes to smartphone usage with a penetration rate of 65%. It also consistently ranks in the worldwide top 10 for internet penetration rates. However, this thirst for digital connectivity and content is often hindered by a unique set of situational factors, especially in relation to geography and infrastructure. Australia ranks 40th in the world for internet speeds on the back of its virtually non-existent broadband network. The physical size of the country versus the relatively small population of the creates challenges too. However, despite being a country of technological contradictions, the use and popularity of online video has been consistently on the rise.

The Rise Of Online Video In Australia

In the last few years, Australian businesses have begun to see online video as more than just a ‘nice to have’. For instance:

  • YouTube is the fourth most visited website in Australia trailing only, and Facebook.
  • 11.5 million Australians use YouTube, marginally trailing Facebook’s 13 million user base.
  • Nielsen’s May 2013 Videocensus also reported that 12.5 million Australians streamed online videos and a grand total of 1.75 billion streams were viewed in May 2013

How Are Brands And Businesses Using Online Video Content In Australia?

The use of online video content in Australia is probably where the contrasts with the rest of the world are most evident. Overall, there is still a widespread view that online video and YouTube should be used in a very ad hoc manner. Linked to this mentality is the viral video obsession which doesn’t look like it is going anywhere soon. That’s not to say that video campaigns aren’t achieving cut through. The best example of the last 12 months has been the widely acclaimed “Dumb Ways To Die” campaign by Metro Trains. This multi-channel campaign was spearheaded by an original song and accompanying video which has racked up more than 66 million views.

But, quality Australian-produced video content is generally in short supply as evidenced by a regular look at the YouTube Trends Dashboard. For the most part, American-produced content rules the roost, especially from the likes of the major film studios and music artists. While this trait isn’t necessarily confined to Australia, being a nation where English is the first language means that content from both the USA and UK is easily translatable.

Which Australian Channels Are Getting The Most Traction?

The most popular YouTube channels are dominated by individuals who specialise in one key area / topic. Some of the most notable examples include:

CommunityChannel – Don’t let the name fool you, Natalie Tran’s YouTube channel isn’t linked to ‘community’ in the common sense of the word. With nearly 1.5 million subscribers, and with videos titled “Microwave olympics” and “How to kill and monster”, it is the definition of quirky mainstream entertainment.

Lauren Curtis – Following in the footsteps of the UK’s Tanya Burr and Pixiwoo, Aussie Lauren Curtis publishes regular make-up and beauty tutorials to a subscriber base 1.1million.

Mighty Car Mods – Marty and Moog host the world’s most popular DIY automotive YouTube channel. Might Car Mods has almost 600,000 subscribers thanks to its popular mythbusters and how to videos.

When it comes to brands, the following channels stand out more than most:

Billabong – This famous Australian brand which specialises in surf, skate, snowboarding and wakeboarding fashion has more than 50,000 YouTube subscribers. The channel is punctuated by videos featuring surfers tackling some of the biggest waves going around.

University of New South Wales – In a similar fashion to the Harvard University YouTube Channel, the UNSW channel attempts to give prospective students an inside look into life on campus.

Coles Supermarkets – Leading Australian supermarket chain, Coles, has tapped into the hunger for food recipe ideas with the Coles YouTube channel. A good portion of the videos are headlines by chef Curtis Stone.

Looking Ahead To 2014

The brands highlighted here are starting to receive more critical acclaim among Australian audiences and may encourage similar strategies to be employed. It will be interesting to see how Australia’s unique set of circumstances impacts upon projected user and content creator growth in 2014.