Digital marketing convention leaving Indy for New York

Connections, the high-profile digital-marketing convention hosted in Indianapolis by ExactTarget each year since the event's founding in 2005, is moving to New York City next year, city tourism officials disclosed Thursday.

This year's three-day conference, which wrapped up Thursday, drew nearly 10,000 people.

Visit Indy spokesman Chris Gahl said his team worked hard to keep the conference here, to no avail.

“It’s certainly news you don’t like to hear,” he said. “We want them to continue to be successful and would certainly like them back for future years.”

The convention has an estimated economic impact of $7.9 million, he said. It isn't huge in terms of economic impact or attendance compared to some of the city's other conferences, but draws top-level marketing and technology executives from around the world.

Gahl said ExactTarget's parent company,, is likely looking to test the waters in a bigger city, which could boost sponsorships and attendance.

He said he was informed that there was a desire from event organizers for a location that offers more non-stop flights.

Salesforce acquired ExactTarget last year for $2.5 billion.

While the move stings, Gahl acknowledged that such a long run is a bit of an anomaly for most conventions, which tend to try different locations every few years.

ExactTarget's first conference in 2005 drew about 500 attendees to a downtown hotel. The event became known as Connections in 2007.

Dirk Ebener, who previously ran Atlanta-based conference management firm Nuernberg Messe and organized events in Indianapolis, said a 10-year run is quite a compliment to city event organizers.
“If you have a 10-year history with an event,” he said, “the city did something right.”
Salesforce officials didn’t immediately respond to questions about reasons for the move.

"We are proud to have built the digital marketing event of the year in Indianapolis over the past 8 years," Salesforce said in a prepared statement. "Connections 2015 will be held June 15-17 in New York City, the media, advertising, and marketing capital of the world."

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