We talked to Erik Norgaard and HOLLYFY on the impact of COVID-19 on its branded entertainment platform.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Erik Norgaard: Earlier this year, my sister and brother-in-law were diagnosed with COVID. This occurred right around the time my niece (their daughter) graduated from high school. Thankfully, my sister had zero symptoms, and my brother-in-law had very mild flu-like symptoms. Unfortunately, my niece didn’t get the full high school graduation experience. They are all healthy, much like the rest of my family.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded HOLLYFY.
Erik Norgaard: My career in tech and marketing began several years ago. I had just returned from working at a major tech company in Tel Aviv and began working for Google on their Star Wars brand integration campaign. Absolute dream job. This eventually led to a eureka moment.
The convergence of brands and entertainment.
For years, many of us noticed a steady disconnect in the efficacy of interruptive advertising, while a proliferation in entertainment creation was expanding worldwide. We decided to take the step and build one of the most advanced machine learning platforms for media, marketing, and entertainment production.
How does your company innovate?
Erik Norgaard: Innovation at HOLLYFY comes from an unwavering curiosity for improvement and growth. Each team member is a unique specialist, but we all encourage open conversation around problem-solving at scale. We support each other and believe that solutions come in many forms. Our platform is exponentially expanding as more ML models are optimized. Brand marketers and entertainment productions of all sizes are accessing our platform daily to collaborate. It’s a very exciting time for media tech.
How the coronavirus pandemic affected your business, and how are you coping?
Erik Norgaard: The pandemic certainly has affected business, but not necessarily in a negative way. Marketers originally pulled back on media spending while they reassessed the market. Likewise, entertainment productions were put on hold as quarantine limited gatherings of people. While this slowdown wasn’t expected, it has pivoted the world into a new remote work mindset. Luckily for HOLLYFY, remote work was built into our platform from day one. Marketers assess the old interruptive advertising model by comparing impressions/engagement to the new branded entertainment model. Lightbulbs go off. Their ROI is off the charts.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Erik Norgaard: Life is full of difficult choices. We construct models of decision theory and map them to a probabilistic framework. Some of our most difficult choices have been prioritization. Rapid growth has challenges, especially in a distributed matrix. One important lesson has been to make decisions quickly and pivot fast.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety? How do you protect yourself and HOLLYFY in the future?
Erik Norgaard: Stress/anxiety can be harnessed and turned into a solution when done properly. These are merely the result of exogenous variables. Detaching one’s emotions from the externalities allows for a more analytical, solutions-oriented implementation strategy. As for myself and our company, we support each other. We unite for the betterment of those who use HOLLYFY and those who support HOLLYFY. Unity and partnerships are built into our DNA.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Erik Norgaard: Our competitors range from BEN, Hollywood Branded, Upfluence, Izea, and some other platforms. Some people might say that traditional advertising is a competitor, but we view our branded entertainment service as the amplification mechanism for marketing campaigns. They go hand-in-hand.
We plan to stay in the game for a long time. Global advertising media spending is around $600 billion per year. We continue to improve the media pipeline with advancements in machine learning, probabilistic predictive modeling, design systems built for ease-of-use, exclusive partnerships, and a fintech stack for media. As the world evolves, so does HOLLYFY.
Your final thoughts?
Erik Norgaard: The future is a beautiful world. As we multiply and expand our capabilities, our focus is to help marketers exponentially sell their brands, and entertainment creators earn. It’s a harmonious system built on inspiration, aspiration, and dedication. We hope you’ll join us.