Today officially ends the tax season and ads for tax preparation companies that have inundated most Americans will disappear, but the results of the 2008 tax season shows that these companies may have missed the ball on search engine marketing.

According to figures from Nielsen, the top five tax preparation providers spent almost $171 million of the $220 million total ad spend for 2008.

But of that total only $6.4 million – 3 percent – of the budget was spent on online marketing.

The big winner was cable television which saw $76.9 million being spent on advertising on its channels. In fact, television and radio made up the vast majority of the advertising with more than 92 percent falling in those categories.

These figures are in stark contrast to what’s happening elsewhere in the marketing world where companies are dropping more traditional forms of advertising to latch onto the growing online population.

A number of industry outlooks predict that traditional forms of marketing like television and print will see their budgets fall over the next few years as a direct result of the increase in online marketing.

Last month a report from the Search Engine Marketing Professionals Organization (SEMPO) found that one-quarter of marketers are shifting budgets from print to online.

Katherine Griwert is Brafton's Marketing Director. She's practiced content marketing, SEO and social marketing for over five years, and her enthusiasm for new media has even deeper roots. Katherine holds a degree in American Studies from Boston College, and her writing is featured in a number of web publications.