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Pathmatics Blog

New Year, New Tax Season

February 08 2022 by Matthew Bozin

A new year means the impending arrival of tax season, and it’s more important than ever for consumers to make sure they have their financial records in order. While it’s no secret that tax service companies ramp up ad investing at the top of the new year, some are approaching 2022 much differently than the year before. 

For companies with specialized, intangible offerings—how are they turning the wheel without reinventing it? While TurboTax remains focused this year on ad creatives around filing taxes, other tax service brands like Jackson Hewitt and H&R Block have honed in on the customer assistance services that they provide. In this blog, we’ll compare creative strategies from the first week of January 2022 with the first week of January 2021 to see how brands like TurboTax, H&R Block, and Jackson Hewitt are helping their respective customers get covered this year.

TurboTax has Got Your Back, and Your Taxes

Nothing triggers stress for Americans quite like tax season, and TurboTax is here to guide us through it. To get that message out, the software company stuck to basics at the beginning of 2022 by kicking off a new round of ads promoting its live services, connecting consumers with tax experts to file their taxes. Every year the company promotes its live expert sessions with fun video ads touching upon the many sticky nuances of filing taxes. 

To kick off 2022, the company invested $5.3M on its digital ads with $3.9M (75%) going toward OTT ads. The top digital creative was an OTT Video ad with a $2.4M investment reiterating TurboTax’s bread and butter — connecting users with a tax expert to make complicated taxes simple, no matter the circumstances. The message was front and center in the company’s 2021 strategy, with a budget of $1.7M the first week. The company invested the majority of its spending toward Desktop Video ads with $1.4M (84%). In addition, TurboTax consistently uses people in its ads to deliver its messaging, reinforcing the human support delivered by its service. The repeated strategy indicates TurboTax clearly communicates its message, and with a strategy where less is more.

H&R Block is Here to Help

Another popular tax season guide is none other than H&R Block. Similar to TurboTax, the company aims to make filing taxes quick and easy for its customers, whether in-person or online. In addition to making things easy, H&R Block wants you to know they’ll also get you the highest refund possible. 

To kick off 2022, the company invested less than TurboTax with over $2M toward its budget, with the majority going toward OTT Videos, with $1.4M (68%). The most digital ad with the most invested in it was an OTT Video worth almost $787K. The company spent considerably less last year, with almost $385K in digital ads for the first week of January.

H&R Block’s digital creatives for 2022 and 2021 are starkly different. 2021’s digital ads were animated and simple (production was likely affected by the pandemic.) The most expensive ad during this period was worth almost $84K and put the tax assistance messaging front and center. The brand’s 2022 digital ads were more lively with live actors in sticky situations that could use a little help, just like people with their taxes. The message was the same, but the video was more engaging and H&R Block invested $788K in it (almost double their 2021 budget for the same time period!). To stand out from its main competitor, TurboTax, various digital ads noted that more people could file for free with its service than the former and guaranteeing the highest possible refund. 

Jackson Hewitt is on Your Schedule

Known as America’s second-largest tax preparation service, Jackson Hewitt is the most subdued of this group with its digital advertising strategy. The company’s direction echoes H&R Block’s by emphasizing its tax prep assistance and letting customers know they are available to help “whenever” it fits their schedules. Jackson Hewitt also guarantees customers the biggest possible refunds “in minutes,” but unlike H&R Block, they provide examples ranging from $700-$3500. 

For the start of 2022, Jackson Hewitt invested $122K toward its digital advertising with the majority being invested in Facebook ads at $86K (70%). The company also invested in OTT ads like the other companies, but these only made up $22K (18%) of its spend. For its Facebook ads, Jackson Hewitt focused on the “highest possible refund” messaging with a money-back guarantee. The company reserved its “available whenever” messaging for its OTT Video ads, with the most expensive one costing $13K.

For 2021, Jackson Hewitt invested about half of this year’s budget toward digital advertising. At almost $66K total, the majority of their budget was equally invested in Facebook and Instagram at $31K each, (94% total). In 2021, the company’s creatives echoed the “money in minutes” message, but focused on giving customers a refund advance on a prepaid card, something that was downplayed for 2022.

More Bang for Your Buck

A fresh start doesn’t always require a fresh take. For companies with intangible and sometimes complicated offerings, the best practice is to keep things simple. OTT ads and Desktop Video ads present an opportunity to illustrate a fun story but stick to the benefits that make your service stand out. If it ain’t broke, don’t break it! We’ll keep an eye out to see how these companies continue to evolve while staying true to themselves.  

About Author
Matthew Bozin

After earning his BS in Communications, Matt cut his teeth in the entertainment industry, spending fifteen years writing everything from feature screenplays for A-List directors, to celebrity bios for some of Hollywood’s top actors. That creative drive made it an easy transition to Marketing, bringing his eye for storytelling to the digital advertising ecosystem.

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