Latest Midwest Digital Marketing Conference offers insights on industry innovations, valuable networking opportunities

2018 Midwest Digital Marketing Conference

Nearly 1,700 people gathered for the sixth annual Midwest Digital Marketing Conference Tuesday and Wednesday at St. Louis Union Station. The event produced by the College of Business Administration featured a selection of 80 sessions and seven pre-conference workshops. (Photo by Sara Bell)

A quick glance at the list of speakers was all it took for Esad Softic to sign on for the 2018 Midwest Digital Marketing Conference.

With representatives from organizations like Facebook, Google, Buzzfeed and Pandora in one location, the event was an opportunity the information systems major didn’t want to pass up – even if he isn’t interested in a marketing career.

“I learned a long time ago that it’s important to go to different places, network and listen to others’ experience of the world,” Softic said from a quiet corner of an otherwise bustling St. Louis Union Station. “You never know what opportunities networking might bring.”

Now in its sixth year, the conference, which is hosted by the College of Business Administration at the University of Missouri–St. Louis, continues to attract a growing number of industry thought leaders.

Nearly 1,700 attendees congregated Tuesday and Wednesday to hear from more than 120 speakers through a selection of 80 sessions.

“Our focus this year was really on content, and I think we hit it out of the park,” said Perry Drake, the MDMC founder, director of business collaboration and an assistant teaching professor of digital and social media marketing at UMSL. “I think we really kind of resonated with everybody. We had the latest topics on artificial intelligence, data, virtual reality and even on data security.”

About 80 students attended this year, which Drake said helped facilitate interesting discussions and provided an important look into the industry that is not always available in a classroom setting.

“I think this is a way for them really to immerse themselves into the world they are about to get into,” Drake said. “If they are going to be valued by employers, they are going to have to walk the talk and understand the terms and issues that marketers are facing today. There’s not a better way to do it than to have 80 sessions to go to.”

Additionally, all proceeds from the conference benefit the MDMC Scholarship Fund to further support UMSL marketing students.

MDMC Executive Director Brianna Smith, who was an active participant in the conference when she was a student at UMSL, said she received positive feedback from students and professionals alike.

“A lot of people say they go to industry conferences all the time and that this is the most smoothly run,” she said. “We have great sessions, and I’ve heard that content-wise it’s a lot of really practical tips.”

In the months leading up to the event, MDMC also received rave reviews from external publications, including Forbes and The Huffington Post.

This year’s conference was presented by Spectrum Reach and had a variety of sponsors, including diamond-level supporters Facebook and PowerPost.

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