Unlike the past two US census years, (2010 and 2000) the US Census Bureau will not be running a Superbowl commercial this year. According to a spokesperson for the ad agency handling the campaign, Superbowl advertising isn’t “an efficient use of the tax payers’ dollars.”
Instead, expect to see 2020 Census ads and public service announcements on social media, as well as continued TV, radio, print, and billboard messaging. And the biggest digitally-influenced change will be that for the first time ever, anyone living in the US will have the option to complete the Census online.
The paid media campaign began this past December with advertising in remote villages in Alaska. Multicultural agencies along with 42 focus groups and 17,000 online survey respondents were engaged to help ensure that this year’s creative campaign and media plan reach diverse audiences. On January 21, the count officially begins in the Alaska Native village of Toksook Bay, Alaska, on the Bering Sea.
Going Online Comes at a Cost
The 2010 Census was the most expensive ever, coming in at $12 billion. Although replacing clipboard carrying door-to-door workers with online surveys should ultimately save billions, the transition comes with a hefty price tag. Just as critically, are the justified concerns regarding cybersecurity, spamming, phishing, and functionality failures. Nevertheless, the change is necessary, inevitable and probably about a decade and a half behind schedule. And Facebook, Google, Twitter, and Microsoft have all been enlisted to help counter malicious or fraudulent activity.
Other Cool Tech Tools of the Census:
- ROAM, a digital mapping product that helps predict where people are least likely to respond based on historical and demographic data.
- BARCA, a tool using satellite and aerial imagery to show how every block in the US has changed over the past 10 years.
- ECaSE, which is an iPhone app for the on-the-ground crew to personalize their canvassing routes based on work viability, language spoken and other data points.
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