The inaugural Digital Marketing Forum, hosted by UNIBusiness’ department of marketing in coordination with the digital marketing agency Spinutech on Oct. 24, gave students an inside look at the role technology plays in today’s customer expectations.

The event was made even more special thanks to Google executives Nima Oftadeh, principal analyst, and Matt Gaither, account executive, who presented at the conference and spent much of the day meeting and helping students.

“In addition to presenting cutting edge thinking on the role of technology in the face of changing customer expectations in the Digital Marketing Forum, Matt and Nima spent the entire day working with UNI students in digital advertising classes and at the [John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center] Student Business Incubator,” said Matthew Wilson, marketing instructor. “This kind of access to the incredible talent at Google for our students was invaluable."

These opportunities were made possible by a $30,000 gift from Spinutech, an Inc. 5000 business that was co-founded in Cedar Falls by UNI alumnus Marc Reifenrath, who now serves as president of the company.

Jessica Wise (Marketing Management ’20, Avoca, Iowa), the co-president of the UNI American Marketing Association, said the forum was exciting for her in two ways. The first was the opportunity to learn beyond the classroom from renowned Google executives. The second was her ability to play a role in hosting the forum via partnerships with Spinutech and UNI’s American Advertising Federation.

One of Wise’s favorite parts of the forum was learning about future Google products. One example was Google Assistant, which will soon be equipped to make calls to hairstylists, dentists or doctors and create appointments through a simple direction.

“I am always interested in learning beyond the classroom,” Wise said. “Google has produced revolutionary products in the past and is constantly working for innovation. They described products and services that will soon be in our daily lives, so it's neat to learn about the future before it happens.”

Oftadeh spoke to the importance of digital branding, and how it can be integral to attracting and retaining customers. Companies like Netflix, Uber, Google and GrubHub may not be directly competing in terms of industry, but they are competing for your attention, he said.

“You need to have that Uber type of experience for your business or people will leave,” Oftadeh said during his presentation. “If you do not provide that wow moment, people will leave. Because it’s just too easy to find another option. People are more curious, more demanding and more impatient.”

Watch the entire forum on Facebook November 10th!