H&R Block vs. TurboTax: Which Company Is Spending More On Ads To File Your Taxes for Free?

February 9 2017
tax_software_ads.jpgJanuary is a big month for tax software advertisers as the government officially started reviewing tax returns on the 23rd. While the clock continues to tick towards April 15th, tax brands are beginning to sharpen their competitive, creative claws as they duke it out on top publishers sites. The fight for brand awareness, before consumers even begin to think about filing their taxes, was a clear motivator this year as companies released large campaigns right after the ball dropped on 2016.
 
H&R Block and TurboTax are two of the most recognizable brands when it comes to tax preparation software in the consumer financial services category. We took a closer look at how each advertiser is spending their budgets online, and where they're spending it. While TurboTax is outspending H&R Block on digital, by a lot, is that strategy working?

TurboTax Outspending All of Its Competitors

The perennial leader, year-after-year, TurboTax continues to annihilate the competition, spending $26M to H&R Block’s $2.7M during the month of January. As for impression volume, TurboTax reaped 83% of the share between the two brands with 4.3B impressions to H&R Block’s 868.2M. 
 
With TurboTax releasing only 119 more creatives than H&R Block, both brands heavily focused on desktop/display. On the TurboTax side, desktop advertising represented 69% of their digital spend for January while H&R Block spent 77% of their digital dollars on desktop. Mobile and desktop video were the next most popular device types for the two tax software advertisers, but lagged far behind the dominance of display in both brand’s strategy.
 
hrblock_vs_turbotax_spend.png
Source: Pathmatics US Digital Data, 1/1/17-1/31/17. 
 
 

Same Industry, Different Buying Strategies

Both brands sell similar services, however their digital buying strategies couldn’t be further apart. H&R Block invested 81% of their digital budget to ad networks, led by top partner Criteo with 51% share. Only ten percent of H&R Block’s spend went direct to publisher - a strategy favored by TurboTax. The majority of TurboTax’s digital spend (87%) went to direct buys, while advertising networks only consumed 11% of the brand’s budget, led by Advertising.com. With benefits to both direct and programmatic buying strategies, only time will tell which method will result in the most product conversions.
 
hrblock_vs_turbotax_buying.png
Source: Pathmatics US Digital Data, 1/1/17-1/31/17. 
 
 

TurboTax Overspends H&R Block on Top Sites

Three out of H&R Block’s top five sites were dominated by TurboTax in spend and impressions during the month of January, demonstrating fierce competition between the software companies online. The indirect strategy of H&R Block also represents a long-tailed strategy, as the brand placed display creatives on an average of 525 sites per day. TurboTax’s direct strategy limited the number of sites that the brand reached, with only 60 sites being targeted daily, on average. Managing your brand’s campaigns on over 500 sites per day can be difficult, especially in an era of fake news and low-brow sites, but H&R Block’s site list appears to be high-quality.
 
hrblock_vs_turbotax_sites.png
Source: Pathmatics US Digital Data, 1/1/17-1/31/17. 
 

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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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