In today's media landscape, audiences are fragmented across a whole host of devices and platforms. YouTube's 10th birthday is a great moment to reflect on how video has changed over the past years, what Australian marketers can learn from the most successful creators, and what the future may hold.

Written by
Bart Jenniches
Published
June 2015
Topics

Ten years ago, brands could reach almost all of their audiences on just one screen: the television set. Today's media landscape is much more diverse because the audience has fragmented across a whole host of devices and platforms. YouTube's 10th birthday is a great moment to reflect on how video has changed over the past ten years, what Australian marketers can learn from the most successful creators and brands, and what the next ten years may hold.

We are living in a golden age of video that offers a dazzling variety of content. Content runs the gamut from cat videos to serious feature-length documentaries, interviews with world leaders, and major product launches. More than 300 hours of content are uploaded to YouTube every minute, and Aussies still can't get enough of it. In Australia, YouTube watch time grew by 50% over the past year. Online video is part of our culture and our lifeblood. It is an essential part of everyday life for millions of Australians.

What are we watching? Music, interviews, how-to guides, video bloggers—and ads. Online, many ads are skippable, so if someone chooses to watch an ad, that really means something. The hard sell doesn't work for online video; ads have to be entertaining. And if they are, they are hugely rewarded. Australia's most-watched YouTube ad of all time is Dumb Ways to Die, a safety video for Metro Trains Melbourne that has been watched more than 100 million times.

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Dumb Ways is three years old, and a lot has already changed since then. Australia has one of the highest rates of smartphone usage globally. Having the internet within arm's reach 24/7 means that we no longer go online; we live online. On YouTube, more than half of all views now come from mobile devices. We are watching videos while we're waiting for a coffee, waiting for a bus, or waiting for friends. YouTube watch time on smartphones and tablets is 90% higher than it was just one year ago.

People are using their phones to watch top Aussie creators such as Troye Sivan, Lauren Curtis, and Jayesslee, who have millions of subscribers on YouTube. The question is, can brands match that success? The answer is an emphatic yes! Last year, four of the top 10 trending videos of the year on YouTube were created by brands.

Smart marketers can get in on the game by emulating the twin pillars of creators' success: authenticity and relevance. Ads that do best on YouTube tell real stories that resonate with their audiences, such as Nutri-Grain's seven-minute short film about blind Brazilian surfer Derek Rabelo. They also know what their audiences are passionate about so they can build a loyal audience that chooses to watch their ads. Toyota is a brand that consistently gets this right; its 90-second Unbreakable Drivers goes to the heart of what Hilux drivers are interested in.

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Online video is seeing explosive growth in Australia. Over the next few years, marketers will win or lose according to how well they adapt to the new generation of ads.

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