By Kat Riddler, Editor-In-Chief

The University of Missouri–St. Louis’ Midwest Digital Marketing Conference (MDMC) outgrew its one day conference last year with 1,360 people in attendance and 300 more waitlisted. This year, the event, sponsored by the College of Business, will be held downtown at Union Station on April 12 and 13.

The MDMC was founded by Perry Drake, director of business collaboration in marketing, in 2013 and has grown in attendance and complexity since. Drake said, “This year we are going to two days and adding new tracks and more sessions. This year we have nine tracks. Some of the new tracks are on creativity and ecommerce. We have also added a new career, networking, and professional development fair for the general public free of charge. We will feature seven sessions on career development.”

The new Career and Professional Development Fair is from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on April 12. Attendees will be able to meet with a variety of participating companies. The fair is sponsored by 314 Digital and Social Media Club–St. Louis.

Over 90 speakers are scheduled during the event from companies that include Buzzfeed, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Snapchat, and more. Speaker topics include engaging millennials and generation z, the future of marketing, and cybersecurity. The full list of speaker bios and their topics can be found on the conference website. The exhibitor hall will be open both days for attendees to walk around and learn about the different businesses showcased at the conference.

Drake said, “Small to large business enterprises will find something at this conference as well as those in the B2B or B2C space. We carefully planned the agendas accordingly. There are also session for all levels from beginners to advanced.  All attendees are guaranteed to hear the latest practices and innovations around digital and social media marketing and communications. Attendees will learn the way industry leaders such as Facebook, BuzzFeed, Twitter, and GoDaddy engage internally and externally.”

There will also be an Executive Round Table discussion for individuals with director level job titles or above with an additional ticket price of $49. This 50-seat limited discussion will be moderated by Forrester Research and will include other executives from Return Path, Yahoo!, Oracle, Microsoft, and more for one hour with another hour open to questions from the audience.

Changes were also made to the startup competition this year. Startup companies applied and went through a Skype interview process prior to the conference. Five startups were then chosen to receive two conference passes, free parking for the weekend, four food truck vouchers for both days, a free display booth, discounted hotel accommodations, and access to select speakers from Facebook, Google, Pinterest, and others. At the conference, the selected companies will have the opportunity to pitch their startup to a target market and 10 panelist judges from 10 companies, including from Google, Facebook, and Microsoft for a chance to win $5,000 cash sponsored by Purina and UMSL Accelerate.

The State of Digital Media Marketing Conference was founded by Drake in 2013 at UMSL. It was a half day event with speakers who participated via Google Hangouts in the J.C. Penney Conference Center. In 2014, the conference expanded to a full day and filled the conference center. In 2015, the conference outgrew UMSL with the exhibit hall and keynote packed with attendees. In 2016, the conference moved to St. Louis Union Station, doubling the capacity and attendance of the conference. At this time, the conference rebranded itself as MDMC.

Drake is excited for several additions to this year’s conference. He said, “We have joined forces with the AR/VR association and have created the AR/VR Zone within the Exhibitor Hall that will feature the latest in AR/VR software and hardware from 5 different companies. We also will have an opening night party fully sponsored by Momentum Worldwide featuring free food and drinks. Our startup competition is sponsored by Purina and UMSL Accelerate. And finally, there are our prestigious new additions to the speaker lineup which include Facebook, GoDaddy, Forrester, and Twitter.”

Hanah Brown, senior, marketing, said, “I think it’s important for students to attend MDMC because it’s an enormous opportunity. This event gives us the chance to learn about new tools, best practices, and even different ways to think outside of the box for the careers we will be jumping into soon. I’m looking forward to networking with industry professionals and influencers, and learning from a different perspective altogether.”

UMSL students can purchase discounted tickets with a valid UMSL ID for $50, but only 100 of these tickets are available. The pass includes access to all keynotes and concurrent sessions, access to the exhibitor alley, access to the job and career fair, morning and afternoon coffee and snacks, a goodie bag, an invitation to the opening night party, and PowerPoints of all presentations. Tickets can be purchased online at umsldigitalconference.com/.