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Brand of the Week: Harley-Davidson

November 05 2017 by Jordan Kramer
With a new line of rides, Harley-Davidson is getting ready for 2018 to target their goal of 2 million riders over the next 10 years. How are they accomplishing this goal on digital? By incorporating video advertising into their budget in an attempt to reach the elusive millennial market to diversify their customer-base across demographics.
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Facing stiff competition from Honda’s new motorcycle models, in addition to big brands such as BMW and Suzuki’s bike market, Harley-Davidson is investing more on digital than ever. Here’s a look at how they are buying across device-types, and the campaigns the brand is running.

Focus on Video

Over the last thirty days, Harley-Davidson has invested a third of their digital advertising budget on video campaigns, releasing six new creatives. The motorcycle manufacturer’s top creative across all device-types is a 30 second video launched on September 30th, targeting YouTube.
During the same time last year, only two percent of the brand’s ad budget was spent on video while the largest focus was on display. Clearly Harley’s focus has shifted, scaling back display spend, and overall ad spend
As part of a larger budget, display consumed 84% of the brand’s ad spend last year through primarily direct buys. Now, display takes up less than half of Harley’s budget while the company tests out mobile and video campaigns.

YouTube Enters the Picture

With an increased focus on video, comes the largest video publisher online that also happens to have a pulse on the millennial market. Harley-Davidson has stayed off the popular site until late 2017, opting to run even display ads on other publisher such as top site Rolling Stone.
While Rolling Stone continues to be a key site target for the brand, YouTube has quickly grown to consuming a quarter of Harley’s site spend from their video ads. As the brand zeros in on attempts to flirt with newer generations, you can expect for YouTube to become a bigger player in their site strategy.


Competitive Landscape

With Honda’s gritty new campaign for their Rebel 300 & 500 model motorcycles entering the landscape in August, in addition to competitors Suzuki & BMW, the motorcycle market is looking for riders online. Between Harley-Davidson, and the motorcycle lines from Honda, Suzuki, and BMW, Honda is leading the landscape with just over 60% of spend share and 50% of impressions between the brands across device-types.
Harley-Davidson has run the most creatives over the last thirty days - coming in at 44 - edging out the 30 released by Honda, 25 from Suzuki, and 15 from BMW. Both Harley and Honda’s motorcycle campaigns spiked around October 12th and 13th, targeting different sites. Honda favors Gawker properties, while Harley went for Rolling Stone and YouTube.
Out of the four brands, Harley-Davidson is the only motorcycle manufacturer advertising on Rolling Stone because of a partnership between the brand and publisher due to their longstanding relationship. Smart move on Harley’s part to lock-in a publisher that speaks to their target demographic and invest heavily in that site with ads and branded content.
Harley-Davidson is also the only brand out of the four running a heavy video strategy and targeting YouTube. Honda, Suzuki, and BMW may target YouTube with their auto campaigns, but they have all leaned towards display when it comes to promoting their motorcycle models. 

See Harley-Davidson's Full Digital Advertising Strategy [Free Report] 

If you are a publisher that caters to the millennial market, it's a good time to throw out a line to Harley-Davidson. Brownie points if you can offer video solutions for the brand that doesn't look like it will be slowing down its video campaigns anytime soon.

Discover exactly how Harley-Davidson has been investing across digital over the last thirty days, including device-type breakout, top sites, and programmatic data, with the latest Brand of the Week report.

Download Harley Davidson's Digital Ad Strategy

About Author
Jordan Kramer

An out-of-the-box thinker with a love for disruptive ideas, Jordan's background spans PR and events for the wedding & hospitality industry in Los Angeles and Scottsdale and also launching one of America's most unique food trucks. She jumped from the food start-up scene to the tech start-up scene in 2013 to join one of the most unique companies in ad tech. Jordan is a graduate of the University of California, Santa Barbara with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication.

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