context, content and hill holliday’s new website

Context, Content and Hill Holliday’s New Website

Boston agency Hill Holliday has launched a new agency website that, according to Chief Media Officer Baba Shetty, “gives us enormous flexibility to create scenarios that vary by user situation.”

Already owners of a site that eschewed the typical static brochureware about the company in that it was built around a blog, Hill Holliday has continued innovation with their new platform that “[allows] allowing us to play around with the intersection of web content and user context.”

That is the holy grail, isn’t it?

The digital holy grail at least. The real holy grail, as we all learned from Indiana Jones, is a wooden carpenter’s cup that is buried somewhere in the Crescent Valley along with a whole bunch of Hollywood extras.

An example of what Hill Holliday means by the intersection of content and context is highlighted in AdPulp today, where a custom header greets those who come from the AdPulp site with “We think AdPulpFiction would be an awesome movie. Welcome to Hill Holliday.” And that certainly is an intersection of content and context. But it is also a lot like the greeter at a store in the mall saying something like “that sweater you got over at J. Crew across the way looks great on you. Welcome to the Apple Store.”

Which is pretty creepy.

Content is meaningless without context, a statement that is so true as to be cliché, and a statement that begs the question what context is necessary and correct to give meaning to content.

Knowing what website you are coming from and flagging a note of that is context, sure, but it is doesn’t give the content anymore meaning. It is digital chest-bumping, showing that the technology can do something simply for and getting it noticed simply because of the novelty value. It doesn’t add value to what is on the site. And it is as weird as a store clerk at a mall store having watched you shop the store across the hall.

Which is not to say that one can’t use the knowledge of what site a person is coming from to give context to the content on their site. It is just that it should help determine what content is merchandised.

To use the analogy of the mall, what the store clerk should have done is take the knowledge of what the shopper bought in the other store to arrange his own merchandise or feature a product that is complementary or fills an unmet need. That would subtly make relevant content, making it contextually correct for the state of the consumer.

And that is what will make digital technology more than a party trick.

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