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"Textbooks" was the top back-to-school paid search keyword last summer for both spend ($829,857) and impressions (18,866,205), according to a recent analysis by AdGooroo.

The second most popular keyword, "school supplies," had nearly as many impressions as "textbooks" (17,300,378) but a fraction of the spend ($153,625), reflecting the higher price (and profit margins) of college and high school textbooks compared with general school supplies such as pencils and notebooks.

Below, additional key findings from the study, which examined the performance of 318 back-to-school terms in July and August 2012 on the US Google AdWords and Yahoo Bing networks.

Top Back-to-School Keywords

"School uniforms" was the third most popular back-to-school paid search keyword. "Used textbooks" was fourth, and "soccer cleats" was fifth.

Paid Search Spend

  • Spend on back-to-school keyword terms has increased steadily year over year, going back to 2010. 
  • Advertisers spent $1.9 million in June and August 2012 on back-to-school keywords—a 73% increase over the same period in 2011.
  • Most of that spend—$1.3 million—occurred in August as summer vacations wound down and the new school year loomed.
  • Spend on school-related keywords isn't confined to the summer. Besides the July and August spike, a significant and recurring jump also happens in January, when school starts up again after winter break.

Top Back-To-School Advertisers

  • Book purveyors account for eight of the top 20 back-to-school advertisers—not surprising, considering the high spend and impressions for keywords related to "textbooks."
  • Amazon and Wal-Mart bought the most back-to-school impressions last summer, followed and

About the research: The report was based on an analysis of the spend on 318 actively sponsored keyword terms in July and August 2012 that signaled back-to-school-related shopping, such as searches containing "school," "college," "textbook," or relating to various fall team sports.

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image of Ayaz Nanji

Ayaz Nanji is a digital strategist and a co-founder of ICW Media, a marketing agency specializing in content and social media services for tech firms. He is also a research writer for MarketingProfs. He has worked for Google/YouTube, the Travel Channel, AOL, and the New York Times.

LinkedIn: Ayaz Nanji

Twitter: @ayaznanji