Tax Advertising in Paid Search

Tax preparation advertisers are working down to the wire to win consumers' business ahead of the April 15 deadline to file federal income tax returns. And they're using Paid Search to help do it.

AdGooroo examined Paid Search activity on 3,819 tax-related keywords on U.S. Google between March 1 and April 12 and found 18,801 advertisers spent more than $60.4 million dollars sponsoring Desktop Text Ads for these keywords during the period. Mobile search was not included.

Despite the sizable pool of Paid Search advertisers competing for consumers' tax business this year, in many respects it has been a competition between three major players: Intuit's TurboTax, H&R Block and TaxACT. Together these three advertisers collectively spent $24.1 million on the 3,819 search terms, accounting for nearly 40% of all spend on the keyword group from March 1 to April 12.

Tax 2015 Top Advertisers_AdGooroo

Taking a closer look at the three top tax preparation advertisers, we found TurboTax was getting the most bang for its buck in terms of Share of Voice. Despite spending only 3.75% more than H&R Block, TurboTax achieved a 39.7% impression share on the keyword group compared to H&R Block’s 16.1% impression share. TaxACT also surpassed H&R Block in Share of Voice, generating a 20% impression share during the period.

However, H&R Block was the clear leader in clickthrough rate among the Top 3, generating a 13.56% CTR -- more than 62% higher than that of TurboTax or TaxACT, whose respective CTRs were 8.30% and 8.35%. What’s more, H&R Block had the second highest clickthrough rate of all advertisers in the Top 20 ranking by Paid Search spend. led the Top 20 with a 17.52% CTR.

Top Keywords

Tax 2015 Top Keywords_AdGooroo

One reason for H&R Block’s strong clickthrough rates is the fact that it had 6 brand terms (all variations of its name) in the Top 20 Tax Keywords by Paid Search spend. Clickthrough rates for H&R Block’s 6 brand terms averaged a healthy 13.67%. Given the ubiquity of its television and radio commercials this time of year, it would not be a stretch to speculate that H&R Block’s Paid Search program is benefitting from its traditional advertising campaigns. The only other advertiser brand terms found in the Top 20 were ‘taxact’, ‘quickbooks’ and ‘turbotax’.

The top terms by Paid Search spend were ‘i r s’, ‘irs’ and ‘h&r block’. There were 5 terms that included the abbreviation ‘irs’ in some capacity, totaling more than $9.6 million in Paid Search spend. For comparison, H&R Block’s 6 brand terms totaled close to $6.2 million during the period.

The most expensive terms in the Top 20 were the generic terms ‘file taxes online’ ($11.45), ‘free tax filing’ ($11.19), ‘taxes’ ($8.48) and ‘tax return’ ($7.91). Generic terms such as these tended to have the most competition.  ‘Taxes’, for instance, topped all other terms, by far, with 172 advertisers competing on it between March 1 and April 12.

Note: the results in this study are limited to Desktop Text Ad activity on the 3,819 keywords studied during the period. All advertisers discussed in the report may be sponsoring additional keywords that would alter the results of this report if that data were included.

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