The emergence of data-driven media decisions mirrors an ongoing shift within media agencies as they evolve from channel experts to audience experts. Meanwhile, the Cannes advertising festival continues to morph beyond a celebration of advertising creativity.

“Over the last couple of years it’s really become much more than that,” observes Doug Ray, CEO of media agency Carat N.A., citing the increased attendance of ad tech partners, digital providers and data miners.

Ray uses the word “exciting” to describe both the state of digital media and television and the myriad content choices for consumers, although as platforms proliferate measuring effectiveness across them for clients is still a work in progress. As was the case last year, he believes some brands will continue to shift dollars from linear TV to digital.

“But as you shift money to follow that consumer into the digital video, you’re fundamentally talking now about mobile video,” Ray says in an interview with Beet.TV. “You start getting into different formats and sizes, vertical versus horizontal, and that brings a whole series of challenges that I don’t think clients have been looking at solving in the past.”

Ray isn’t the first media veteran to apply a legacy media concept to the issue of digital ad viewability. “To me it’s table stakes,” he says of the industry V-word. “When you ran an ad in a magazine you expected it to be printed correctly, to be right-side up and be in the magazine. Viewability should just insure that the ad runs as we think it should.”

This isn’t to say viewability in and of itself is a performance metric. According to Ray, “Performance is going to be measured by the appropriate KPI’s against the business outcomes that we’re looking to set.” Asked whether he supports the Internet Advertising Bureau’s viewability guidelines, Ray says, “Personally, I think we could go further on those. It depends upon the campaign. But overall I would like to see a little bit stronger viewability standards in place.”

As he reflects on the changing role of media agencies, beset as they are with competition from consulting and technology companies, he says they must excel at having the best data, technology and talent. “There is so much going on, we fundamentally believe we have to move from being a media agency, which is about channels and media types, to being an audience agency and thinking about people first,” Ray says.

This interview is part of our series “The Road to Cannes”, presented by FreeWheel. Please visit this page for additional segments.