Tracy Northcutt


It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year Again – Tax Season

It's that time of year again.

Yes, it's the holidays – and that's all good – but it's also time people start thinking about taxes.

Tax season can be daunting for some, but amidst the gloom, there's a silver lining for others; tax season presents an opportunity for advertisers in the tax-assistance and preparation fields. As many of you already know, tax season is increasingly becoming a digital season. According to the IRS, Some 131.1 million tax returns were submitted electronically in 2012.

Given that 4 out of 5 returns are filed online, chances are your customers are also going online to find information and help with their tax questions and concerns. Like all things digital, that's a trend that's accelerating. But it's amplified this year because the 2014 tax season brings with it new complexities and challenges for taxpayers that range from provisions in the Affordable Care Act to changes to fixed tax brackets.

What this means for the savvy advertiser is a chance to reach people during that crucial moment when they're actively looking for tax information and evaluating their options.

Based on recent data, we think the Bing search audience is particularly appealing to tax-related advertisers. comScore reveals that when compared to Google, our audience over-indexes in searchers with household incomes of $30,000-$100,000 – a demographic that comprises nearly 40 percent of the U.S. population and the majority of the population that pays taxes1.  Moreover, people aged 25-44, a group that research has shown does a lot of searching in the tax category, are strongly represented in the Yahoo Bing Network audience. 1, 2

The holidays tend to go by quickly, so don't wait to get your tax campaigns in tip-top shape.  Although we can't help you complete your personal taxes, we've done our best to provide you some valuable materials to realize gains from your PPC advertising campaigns during this year's tax season. You can check out a synopsis of these tips on our Vertical Insights page.

If you'd like to review it later, be sure to download the below deck from SlideShare.

Questions? Comments? Leave them below or ping me on Twitter.

Tracy Northcutt

Senior Product Marketing Manager


1 Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center Microsimulation Model (version 0412-7), US Census Bureau, distribution of personal income, 2010

2 comScore, 2012 & 2013 comScore Media Metrix, US, Sept 2013.  Indexing compared to overall Internet population.

Keep reading

We’ve Got You Covered with 5 Tips for Search Advertising Success During Healthcare Reform

Healthcare is evolving in the US – and Bing Ads is here to help you successfully navigate the waves of change.

What’s changing in healthcare?
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) is a new “Patient’s Bill of Rights” giving Americans the flexibility they need to make informed choices about their healthcare. The ACA will go into effect on January 1, 2014 with health insurance enrollment beginning on October 1, 2013 in most states.

What’s the impact to search advertising?
Americans will be looking for answers on how the new healthcare law will affect them, resulting in spikes in search traffic in 2013 and into 2014.

How can search marketers prepare?
The below 5 tips can help you prepare your search campaigns for the post-ACA world.

1. Seek out the right audience.
The Affordable Care Act will impact individuals, families and small businesses – audiences that the Yahoo Bing Network over-indexes in when compared to Google. In contrast to Google, the Yahoo Bing Network is more likely to have children in the home, work in a small business, or start a business in the next year. This audience is also primed for purchasing health insurance – they’re 21% more likely than Google’s audience to have applied for health insurance online in the last 6 months.[1]

2. Choose your words carefully when refining ad copy

Not all words are created equal. When it comes to delivering your message, some are more effective than others. For example, the keyword “affordable” in the Ad Title and Ad Description proved to have higher clickability, while keyword “savings” performed significantly lower.[2] Check out the most recent keyword list we’ve compiled on Medicare and Health Insurance keywords to leverage in campaigns.

Also consider Dynamic Keyword Insertion, which contributed to four of the top five top performing Ad Title/Ad Description combinations below:


3. Leverage key ad formats for a richer, more engaging experience

There are multiple options to boost ad performance and create more relevant search ads for health insurance advertisers.

  • Sitelink Extensions.  Sitelink Extensions increased Health Insurance ad copy quality by 316%[3] compared to ads that did not include Sitelink Extensions. Sitelink Extensions attract attention to search results, capture more clicks, and give prospective customers direct access to more relevant content on the site. Consider including additional messages about services, offers, and more.
  • Location Extensions.  Financial services and insurance ads that used location extensions saw a 24% increase in average click-through rate (CTR)[4]. This is a great feature for driving performance campaigns with a clear call-to-action like a phone call.
  • Content Ads.  Boost clicks at a lower cost per acquisition (CPA). Content Ads may help health insurance advertisers get more clicks at a lower CPC, resulting in lower acquisition costs. An internal study showed that Financial Services and Insurance advertisers saw cost per acquisition 36% lower[5] than with standard text ads.

4. Formulate bidding strategies: Budget & Bids

2013 - 2014 forecasts show that top Medicare and Health Insurance searches and clicks will peak in October 2013, due to the attention given to the delayed ACA reform starting in 2014 and the open enrollment season in October. This means a lot more people will be searching with the intent to research and make a health Insurance purchase decision. This traffic translates into more clicks and more competition as advertisers bid on relevant keywords to capitalize on the demand. Your October budget should be larger than usual to account for more people searching and more competition between health Insurance advertisers vying for top ad positions.

5. Optimize for devices
Lastly, we recommend examining website analytics to create a mobile strategy. It’s important to
understand how searchers are accessing your website. If mobile is substantial or on the rise you should consider the following:

  • Leverage Sitelink Extensions and Location Extensions to help potential customers quickly obtain information
  • Create targeted landing pages to showcase content from SEM campaigns, such as a healthcare reform FAQ or other educational resources
  • Considering launching a mobile site if you haven’t already

The Affordable Care Act presents a huge opportunity for the health insurance industry and by leveraging the 5 recommendations we’ve outlined, you’re sure to capitalize on the upcoming traffic surge with open arms.

To see the full set of recommendations, review the presentation below:


[1]comScore US Plan Metrix Site Audience Profile, May 2013

[2]Microsoft internal research study. Compared to ads that did not use any of the listed variables with brand terms removed. Variables were chosen based on frequency of use and positive impact on ad quality.

[3]Performance study based upon beta testing data on Bing owned and operated only and is not a guarantee of performance. Increase in clicks is dependent upon a seasonality and advertiser vehicle

[4]Microsoft internal data, includes US PC searcher for Yahoo and Bing properties, 9/10/12 to 10/6/12 and 10/8/12 to 10/28/12. Considered all ads with extensions on mainline where ad is displayed as: URL + Location URL + Location + Phone URL + Phone

[5] Microsoft Internal Study on Content Ads, Jan 2013

Keep reading

Show Me the Money: How US Financial Services Marketers Boost Bottom Lines with Bing Ads

I’m pleased to announce the availability of the US Search Advertising Trends in Financial Services, August 2013 report, which provides deep marketplace insights to help financial services advertisers more effectively manage their search campaigns.  The report includes third party research, audience insights and Yahoo! and Microsoft internal research, designed to help you discover the most significant ways to drive return on ad spend within Financial Services, including:

  • Securing top ad ranking in a less competitive marketplace than Google AdWords1
  • Leveraging key ad formats to help improve click-through rates and overall campaign performance
  • Using  Ad Copy Testing and Search Query research to help fine-tune search campaigns and boost click-through-rates

As an added bonus, join me in the Bing Ads group on LinkedIn from August 26 – 30th where I’ll be answering your questions on the report and financial services search advertising in general.

I hope you enjoy the business intelligence we’re uncovering and look forward to hearing your thoughts on the report during the LinkedIn discussion!


1 AdGooroo Special Report, Yahoo! Bing PPC Performance Metrics: What Search Marketers Need to Know About “The Other Search Engine.” March 2013

Keep reading