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Maybe this isn't such a young industry after all.

When Advertising Age decided to profile 20 interactive marketing leaders, we searched high and low for people who are giving old brands new life in the new-media world. People who are creating new ways to market products and services. People who have the uncanny ability to predict what's around the corner.

Apparently, with experience comes wisdom. The average age of the executives profiled here is 37. The youngest, Ariel Poler of Internet Profiles Corp., is 28. The oldest, Jim Clark, who helped found Netscape Communications Corp., is 51.

In between are people like Andrew Parkinson, whose crazy idea of shopping for groceries from home turned into Peapod, a thriving online venture backed by Ameritech and others. Martin Nisenholtz, whose task is to drive The New York Times firmly into the online world, has been living the future since he founded Ogilvy & Mather Direct's interactive group in 1983. And Elaine Rubin turned 800-Flowers into such an interactive success that we think the company should change its name.

Like any industry, interactive marketing has its share of leaders who never graduated from college and seers who have multiple degrees. They have vision, but they also realize that in this business it's not always good to be far-sighted. Instead of dreaming only about the blue sky, the 20 executives profiled in this first-ever report are finding marketing solutions in interactive media today.

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