It’s Cheaper Than Running A Cable Channel, But Not By Much

I like that Jennifer Modarelli, CEO of Portland-based White Horse is challenging clients on their lack of willingness to properly invest in their websites.
Writing on Ad Age’s Small Agency Diary, Modarelli says:

Your website is ostensibly your biggest office or storefront. Think real estate: Would you cheap out building your headquarters, manufacturing plant, distribution center, customer service center, or store? And yet, a website can be all of these. This piece of property is available to customers and prospects all over the globe 24/7.
…As digital media continue to evolve, allowing information to be shared across more and more channels, it is more important than ever that your site meet the needs of your users. Your site’s content, usability, and technologies are the foundation for how well you’ll be able to expand into cross-channel media such as mobile, social, and even tablets, and extend your reach globally.
My theory is that C-suites in these businesses still think of the website as a simple marketing asset, like a piece of collateral, rather than as a true location where a company can do business. That needs to change.

Agreed, and there’s another high bar many clients and their providers need to clear–a dynamic site, by definition, is never done. It’s always changing, growing and evolving, so whatever it costs to “build the house” are construction costs only.
When a company moves into their new house “the water” has to run, “the lights” need to turn on and “the temperature” needs to be regulated. These are the ongoing costs. The good news is when designed properly, “the house” will produce more energy than it uses.

About David Burn

Co-founder and editor of AdPulp. I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. I worked for seven agencies in five states before launching my own practice in 2009. Today, I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.


  1. One problem is clients are dealing with digital agencies like ad agencies — that is, clients will fire them and move on to another shop regularly. The big clients even have multiple agencies creating digital communications — as well as multiple agencies working on a single site. Regularly rebuilding an ad campaign is one thing. Regularly rebuilding the digital house with new and varied architects makes for a messier scenario. Oh, and it doesn’t help that most clients are clueless about digital.

  2. Regularly rebuilding the digital house with new and varied architects makes for a messier scenario.
    Right on.
    Like hiring an employee, it’s crucial to hire the right partner/contractor for the job. When you don’t, shit falls apart.

  3. But are you semi-implying clients should stick with a single digital shop for all eternity? It doesn’t help when the digital shops experience as much employee turnover as ad agencies. When you work at a digital shop, and you want to keep samples of your work, you have to grab jpgs, screen grabs, etc. Because you know that once the client hires a new digital shop, everything online will be scrapped.

  4. @High Jive,
    We both know the reality on the ground is there will be more than one shop working on the brand’s site–often more than one at the same time. That doesn’t change the need for an architect, a general contractor and a slew of tradesmen.
    I know the struggle to be named architect on a big project first hand. When I was working on the brand was hesitant to name any one provider “the architect.” But that didn’t stop us from assuming the role ;-0