THE MIDDLEMAN: Maria Mandel, 29, Director of digital innovation, Ogilvy Interactive

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Part of your job is running focus groups of teenage influencers, what are the kids into?

Gaming, mobile devices, SMS. Multitasking and having everything at their fingertips is definitely the trend among teens. For an advertiser to break through is very challenging. They are suspicious of advertising.

Is broadband old-school?

Yes, people have been using broadband for a long time. What we're focused on now is how to bring it to the next level, interactivity, where the consumer can actually make changes and influence the story.

Why are you pursuing a Ph.D. program overseas?

Murdoch University, in Perth, Australia, has one of the leading interactive TV institutes. I'm studying branded entertainment and interactive television, which is just starting to develop in the U.S.

How did you get involved in this profession?

I credit my dad with my career. He's an aerospace engineer and a brainiac. When I was a teenager he dragged me into the field of computers and the Internet saying this is the future. When I was 19, I started Market-Strat, an online marketing agency.

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