Census Bureau

Advertising for the 2020 Census is coming to a medium near you — and soon.

The U.S. Census Bureau has launched its once-per-decade headcount of everyone in America, and a key part of the related communications initiative is an unprecedented $500 million public education and outreach campaign that includes more than 1,000 advertisements, the agency says in a news release.

The overall process supported by the ads is crucial: The findings ultimately help determine how billions of dollars are spent on public services like hospitals, schools, roads and bridges, emergency response services and more.

An e-mailed request from Inside Radio for a detailed breakdown of produced radio spots and related spending was not immediately returned. But a general idea might be gleaned from 2010 statistics, which saw the Census Bureau spend $24.8 million on radio spots. That amount represented nearly 15% of a total of $167 million in paid spending.

Other 2010 spending by media type included television ($81.5 million), newspapers ($26 million), digital ($13.8 million) and out-of-home ($11.1 million).

In 2010 the Census Bureau produced a total of 452 advertisements in 28 languages, with 97 of them (21.5%) for radio. Print led the way with 159 ads (35.2%), followed by television with 62 (13.7%).

A decade earlier, in the 2000 Census, the agency says it created more than 250 TV, radio, print, outdoor and internet advertisements in 17 languages, reaching 99% of all U.S. residents. That campaign included more than 71,000 radio spots.

This time around, the Census Bureau — hoping to reach those who are historically undercounted — began its paid media campaign in December with ads targeting remote villages in Alaska. The agency expects to ultimately reach 99% of all U.S. households.

Its news release says its education effort features ads in English and 12 other languages: Arabic, Chinese, French, Haitian Creole, Japanese, Korean, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Tagalog and Vietnamese.