Who’s Advertising on ‘Obamacare’ in Paid Search and Why?

With no end in sight to the debate over the Affordable Care Act (ACA), commonly known as Obamacare, AdGooroo decided to take a look at Paid Search activity surrounding the controversial law.

To do so, we examined Google AdWords activity on 25 keywords containing the words “Obamacare” or “Affordable Care Act” from January to October 2013. During this time, we found 860 advertisers collectively spending an average of $226,000 per month on such terms.

The question is, exactly who is advertising on the new law and why? Let’s take a look.

AdGooroo - Affordable Care Act Top 10 Advertisers in Paid SearchOrganizations seeking to influence public opinion figure prominently in the Top 10 Affordable Care Act Advertisers based on U.S. AdWords impressions in 2013.

In fact, the top ranked advertiser, with 7.2 million impressions during the period, was NewsMaxStore.com, the e-tail store of conservative news organization NewsMax, which was promoting the book “Obamacare Survival Guide” in its corresponding ads. What’s more, the second-ranked advertiser was StandUpforHealthcare.org (5.2 million impressions), a site by nonprofit organization Families USA that appears specifically designed to advocate in favor of the ACA.  

Other advocacy groups in the Top 10 include conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch (3.2 million impressions) and the libertarian Cato Institute (2.8 million impressions), as well as sites dedicated to a single, non-ACA cause: CMHNetwork.org  from The Children’s Mental Health Network (4.5 million impressions), PovertyLaw.org from the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law (3.7 million impressions), and all.org, from the nonprofit American Life League (3.6 million impressions), which describes itself as a “Catholic pro-life education organization”.

With seven of the Top 10 filled by advocacy groups, the remaining organizations in the ranking are focused on business. LowerHealthQuotes.com (4.7 million impressions) and u-s-healthcare.com (3 million impressions), which appear to be efforts by the same company, are lead aggregator sites that sell the contact information of in-market health insurance shoppers to insurance companies.

Lastly, in the 7th position with 3.3 million impressions is Bank of America, whose corporate division sponsored ACA-related keywords in support of ads offering guidance on the law’s impact on businesses. (Accenture and Deloitte ran similar business-focused campaigns on Google AdWords during the year as well.)

What About Insurance Providers?

Given the continued intensity of debate over the ACA, it’s probably not surprising to find that advocacy groups have such a strong presence in the Top 10 Paid Search advertisers. What is surprising, however, is that no actual insurance providers make the list, especially since there are a reported 48 million uninsured individuals in the U.S. (i.e., prospects) who are going to be required to purchase a plan or pay a penalty.  

Nonetheless, only 12 insurance providers representing 15 sites made even the Top 100 Affordable Care Act advertisers in Paid Search:

AdGooroo - Affordable Care Act Top Insurance Provider Advertisers on U.S. AdWordsTogether these sites garnered 7.6 million impressions during the period – not many more than #1 ranked NewsMaxStore.com, suggesting health insurance providers generally may not consider “Obamacare” or “Affordable Care Act”-specific terms to be integral to their Paid Search keyword strategies.

At the same time, however, Humana had three sites sponsoring ACA-related keywords, including one dedicated exclusively to the subject, HumanaHealthcareReform.com. Further, Humana recently began airing a television commercial alluding to consumer questions it can answer about the ACA.

Finally, the site that has made so many headlines since its rough start in October, healthcare.gov, where consumers can view and apply for plans, came in at #33 in the Top 100 with 801,000 impressions. Similarly, California’s official health benefit marketplace, Covered California (coveredca.com), ranked #38 with 562,000 impressions.