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UTA’s Jeremy Zimmer Weighs YouTube Against Growing Options

The growth of platforms like Facebook and Snapchat has UTA CEO Jeremy Zimmer considering his options versus YouTube as the leading digital video hub faces new challenges.

The talent agency chief addressed the shifting landscape Wednesday at the Code Media conference in Dana Point, Calif., alongside Robert Kyncl, global head of content and business operations at YouTube, who made the case that there’s plenty of room for competition even as his own company continues to grow even faster than his own expectations.

But Zimmer made clear that his priority is obtaining data from content buyers. “The challenge for us on behalf of our clients is getting access to the kind of analytics that help us make intelligent deals,” he said, noting Netflix and Amazon don’t provide information on content consumption from their video services.

While he praised YouTube for being more forthcoming with data, he conceded that there is a challenge with understanding the analytics that are provided.

Another challenge Zimmer and Kyncl identified is that the multiplicity of platforms providing video with very different use cases makes for a lot of work in the absence of unified standards. But he welcomed the new players in the category.

“They’re going to become more aggressive,” Zimmer said of Snapchat, noting its new Discover platform. “Facebook continues to signal it’s more focused and organized.”

Noting the incredible growth of video on Facebook, Zimmer observed, “They have to decide what kind of content hey want to find and feature and develop there. They’re in the early phases there. There’s an emotional leap from being a platform to being a content financier. I think they’re very much a technology company, and getting over that hurdle is going to take some time and be challenging. But if they get there, there’s a massive opportunity for them.”

While Zimmer also acknowledged Amazon and Netflix as viable content buyers, he also made clear he’s not impressed with everyone. “God knows what will happen with Yahoo.”

Kyncl defended YouTube’s spot atop the digital video marketplace, emphasizing his belief that the sheer size of the business will mean multiple players.

“I think you’re seeing tremendous validation of the space, and we’re happy to be part of it,” he said. “Competition sharpens your edges.”

Kyncl also indicated YouTube is exploring additional measures to attract top talent as other companies try to woo its talent away, including more promotion, increased ad load and utilization of YouTube Spaces, its production facilities around the world.

Zimmer gave YouTube credit for improving its standing on Madison Avenue. “Really getting advertisers to lean in and spend the money and believe that it matters and believe that there’s really value has been part of the challenge,” he said. “It’s clearly changing.”

The panel was moderated by Dawn Chmielewski, senior editor, mobile, at Re/code.

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