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Part 2: know where you're going

There are various ways to measure the success of an online original, and the communications strategy should be geared to deliver that success.


Consider the below benchmarks in your plans, remembering to keep in perspective what other content creators have managed to achieve before you.

  • Views: Each platform reports views slightly differently, with various thresholds for what actually constitutes a view. For instance, Facebook has a fairly generous public view count where people don’t need to watch much of your video to be counted as a view. On all platforms, logging in as the video creator allows you to see more comprehensive viewership data.
  • Completion rates: You want your audience to watch your whole show, so using viewership data alone is fairly meaningless. Your completion rate is what gives you a real sense of whether your audience are enjoying your online original.

"I'd rather be nine people's favourite thing, than 100 people's 9th favourite thing." – [title of show] The Musical

  • Engagement: Engagement goes beyond viewership and considers if your audience ‘liked’ your video, shared it, and/or commented on it. When you hear of a video ‘going viral’, it’s referring to content that has very high engagement, which exponentially increases the potential audience and hence views.
  • Ad revenue: As at August 2017, Facebook (including Instagram), standard Vimeo, Snapchat and Twitter don’t share ad revenue with content creators, although there is talk this may be changing. YouTube does offer ad revenue sharing, but even The Katering Show team said they derive most of their income elsewhere, with ad revenue only supplying a “small trickle”. Although if you’ve got a low budget production delivering big viewer data, it is possible (ask Natalie Tran).
  • Sales revenue: There are a handful of instances of online content being sold to broadcasters (e.g. Wizards of Aus sold to SBS) and it is possible to sell direct to your audience through outlets like Vimeo on Demand. Note a sale is different to a commission – check out the Australia Goes Viral Intel series on Screen News for more information.
  • Other revenue: It is more common that successful online creators make money from parallel content like merchandise and tickets to live shows, plus commercial deals they get because of their profile e.g. SketchShe are the face of an Australian Radio Network. It’s rare for creatives to be able to make their sole income from online originals e.g. it took Superwog eight years and that includes income from live shows.
  • Critical acclaim: Positive reviews and media coverage of content not only increase viewership, but help to raise the profile of the creators which can propel them into further work.

"It's important to be authentic. I don't think there's a formula for going viral." – Sarah Bishop, Skit Box

Measuring success

Your success measures need to be:

  • Realistic: When you’re starting out, you’re heavily reliant on friends and family sharing your content so you might be thrilled to get 1000 views. But mid-to-late career creators need to consider what kind of success their past content has got, what their creative peers are achieving and of course a bit of gut instinct. No matter what your career level, if your goal for a video is ‘to go viral’, think again.
  • Time-sensitive: Have milestones e.g. X views by Y weeks. Even if your video is amazing, it may take some time to hit the right circles online. That’s fine, as long as you keep working to get it out there. Communication campaigns go for weeks and months, not days, plus online originals have a very long lifespan.
  • In context: Early in your career a lot of your success measures will not be obvious e.g. the fact you completed your first video at all is an accomplishment. You may consider committing to publishing a certain amount of videos over time, tightening your scripts or getting a script editor in, increasing your production values, co-producing with other creatives or trying a new production element e.g. music. Conversely, if you’re making your tenth video and you’ve really raised the bar creatively, you should be ambitious with your success measures.

Further reading

This guide is aimed at Australian online creators and is for educational purposes only, and does not replace professional advice. The guide cannot be replicated without written permission.