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2020 Census Paid Media Campaign

2020 Census and Paid Advertising

The 2020 Census is the largest collection of statistical information on everyone living in the United States and is required by the U.S. Constitution. Responses to the 2020 Census will shape how more than $675 billion in federal funding is distributed to local communities each year.

The U.S. Census Bureau’s goal is to have a complete and accurate 2020 Census count. Paid advertising is a key component of the campaign, supporting and integrating with other components of the campaign including Partnerships, Statistics in Schools, Social Media, and the 2020 Census Website.

The 2020 Census campaign used lessons learned from prior decades combined with extensive research on the rapidly changing media landscape to understand and address new challenges and capitalize on new opportunities. For the first time, everyone can respond online. Highly targeted digital advertising is driving direct response, moving respondents from advertisements straight to the 2020 Census form.

The media environment in 2020 is significantly different than in 2010, allowing the baseline 2020 Census paid media campaign to:

  • Reach more people at a higher frequency than in 2010, and
  • Include a heavier weighting towards digital channels.

Unprecedented political advertising levels, and the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic and its public health and economic fallout, caused the Census Bureau to move quickly and effectively to adapt to market dynamics and increase the overall 2020 paid media investment.

Team Y&R

VMLY&R (formerly Y&R) secured the Integrated Communications Contract (ICC) for the 2020 Census campaign in August 2016. As the contract’s primary agency of record, VMLY&R created an integrated team for this project, Team Y&R, which includes PSB, Wavemaker, Carol H. Williams Advertising, Culture ONE World, G&G Advertising, The Kãlaimoku Group, TDW+Co, VMLY&R Puerto Rico, Wavemaker Puerto Rico, Reingold, BCW (Burson Cohn & Wolfe), DCG, Guidehouse, PSB, Quantasy, Hogarth, and Subject Matter.

Team Y&R is leading and managing all media buying efforts with media vendors directly. All media negotiations and/or contracting with media vendors in support of the 2020 Census campaign are done with Team Y&R, not the Census Bureau. Team Y&R and the U.S. Census Bureau are involved in a collaborative process in making decisions on final plans.

Wavemaker is leading Team Y&R’s media planning and buying team, including national markets and channels. The media team also includes Reingold (digital direct/content channels), Carol H. Williams Advertising (Black/African American, Sub-Saharan African, and Afro-Caribbean audiences), Culture ONE World (Hispanic and Brazilian audiences), TDW+Co (Asian-American Audiences), G&G Advertising (American Indian and Alaska Native audiences), The Kãlaimoku Group (Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander audiences), and Wavemaker Puerto Rico (Puerto Rico audiences). The baseline campaign targets audiences in English and 12 non-English languages (Arabic, Chinese (Mandarin and Cantonese), French, Haitian Creole, Japanese, Korean, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Tagalog, and Vietnamese). Team Y&R includes small businesses, five of which are minority-owned.1

These media-buying partners are responsible for all the buying and contracting directly with media vendors.


1 Carol H. Williams Advertising, Culture ONE World, G&G Advertising, TDW+Co, and The Kãlaimoku Group (TKG) are minority-owned companies.

2020 Census Paid Media Campaign Allocations

The 2020 Census Updated Paid Media Campaign will currently run until September 2020. Its objective is to motivate everyone living in the United States to respond to the 2020 Census in the mode they prefer. Initial budgets were based on media evaluation criteria recommended by Team Y&R plus the campaign goals.

2020 Census Reach and Frequency Numbers

2020 Paid Media Spend by Audience

*Breakthrough Initiatives – These are initiatives that will be unique and may cover multiple media channels, markets, and audiences. Breakthrough Initiatives were not originally a part of the advertising mix and focused on specific target areas.

*New Languages – See full list under Campaign Extension.


National vs. Local Market Coverage

National efforts are designed to cover all markets. However, specific local markets have been identified to reach historically low-responding populations.

The 2020 Census paid media investment between national and local is currently allocated as follows:2

2 The 2010 National vs. Local Media Buy Chart represents the original paid media dollars plus the recovery.

/3 2010 paid media dollars have not been adjusted for inflation.
2010 Census/3 49% 51%
2020 Census Baseline 66.2% 33.8%
2020 Census Updated 58% 42%

2020 Census Paid Media Buying Phases

The 2020 Census paid media negotiations took place in multiple phases:

  1. 2020 Upfront (began April 2019) – Team Y&R negotiated multi-platform deals with large broadcast companies to receive the best pricing, placements, and added value for the campaign. These negotiations began earlier due to the longer lead-time needed to develop integrated programs, and to remain in line with industry practice for national television negotiations.
  2. Baseline 2020 Paid Media Campaign (began April 2019) – Team Y&R conducted an open Request for Proposal (RFP) process for U.S.-based media vendors. Any vendor could submit a proposal for the 2020 Census Paid Media Campaign. However, only proposals that supported the current languages under the campaign were evaluated. All other proposals were accepted but would not be evaluated unless additional audiences are added to the campaign and/or additional funding becomes available for those audiences.
  3. Updated 2020 Paid Media Campaign (began March 2020) – Team Y&R contracted with vendors that had submitted proposals and could meet all the previous requirements. All proposals submitted that met new campaign criteria and/or audiences covered were reviewed. Team Y&R encourages vendors to submit their best proposal in order to be considered should any additional funding become available. Proposals can be submitted at 2020.wmglobal.com.
  4. Campaign Extension (began July 2020) – The advertisements will appear in English and 12 other languages across multiple platforms including radio, television, print, and digital and outdoor media (billboards and bus stops), with an additional 21 languages covered in newspaper advertising and 11 additional languages in paid media online search support.

English Bulgarian Lithuanian
Arabic Croatian Malayalam
Chinese Cantonese Czech Nepali
Chinese Mandarin Dutch Portuguese
French Farsi Punjabi
Haitian Creole German Romanian
Japanese Greek Serbian
Korean Gujarati Slovak
Polish Hebrew Somali
Portuguese Hindi Tamil
Russian Hmong Telugu
Spanish Hungarian Thai
Tagalog Indonesian Ukrainian
Vietnamese Italian Urdu
Armenia Khmer Yiddish

5. Paid Search Extension (began October 15, 2020) – Paid Search for Diverse Mass and Hispanic audiences will help to address misinformation, Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs), and rumors regarding the 2020 Census.

Negotiations and commitments for all paid media for the baseline 2020 Census campaign were finalized in December 2019. Vendors not selected were notified.

Media Vendor Request for Proposal and Process

As outlined above, media vendors had the opportunity to submit proposals for consideration for the baseline 2020 Census Paid Media Campaign. Team Y&R provided six RFPs (television, radio, out of home, magazine, newspaper, and digital direct/content) that became available on the 2020 Census Media Vendor Day.

The 2020 Census Media Vendor Day was held on April 3, 2019 in New York and April 5, 2019 in Puerto Rico, to educate potential vendors about the baseline 2020 Census Paid Media Campaign and answer questions about the RFP process. Media Vendor Day was held in-person and live streamed for media vendors. The April 3, 2019 event was recorded and accessible for those unable to attend in person or view the live stream in real-time. This recorded presentation was made available on April 10, 2019 via YouTube.

  • Team Y&R promoted Media Vendor Day through press announcements, emails, phone calls, and social media.
  • Vendors had from April 3, 2019 through May 29, 2019 to respond.
    • Vendors had from April 3, 2019 through April 12, 2019 to submit questions regarding the RFP process.
    • Questions received from vendors were posted on April 26, 2019 on 2020.wmglobal.com with answers from Team Y&R.
    • The deadline for RFP submissions was extended from May 24, 2019 to May 29, 2019, to allow vendors more time to respond in response to the issues experienced and outlined below.
    • Vendors with technical difficulties were provided additional time to submit if they provided the following information:
      1. Their Proposal Reference Code (6-character ID)
      2. The specific issue they had (e.g., logging in, slow response, uploading files, etc.)
      3. As many details as possible (e.g., type of file, size of file, etc.)
      4. The error message they received
      5. A screenshot of the technical difficulty they encountered
      6. The email address that was associated with the proposal they were attempting to submit
  • No late submissions were considered after the extended due date of May 29, 2019 for the baseline 2020 Census paid media campaign.
  • Vendors were able to submit a proposal to the portal at any time if they had not previously done so in order to be considered for any additional funding that may become available.

Team Y&R worked to ensure that all media vendors, including small and minority-owned businesses, had notice of the upcoming buy and had an opportunity to submit proposals for consideration in the paid media campaign.

The following standards were used to determine if a media vendor was eligible to participate in the baseline 2020 Census paid media campaign:

  • Vendor must submit an advertising proposal for the 2020 paid media campaign via the 2020 Census Paid Media Campaign RFP Portal at 2020.wmglobal.com
  • Vendor must agree to the terms required to work on the 2020 Census Paid Media Campaign
  • Vendor must agree to provide proof of performance/placement
  • Vendor must agree to the media payment terms (no partial or pre-payments will be made, and payment will be made after receipt of a valid invoice and proof of performance)
  • Vendor must agree to abide by the make-good policy (i.e., when a vendor is unable to run as originally ordered, they are required to run the ad at another time that has the same reach and frequency as the original order)

Additionally, each vendor needed to meet the following requirements:

  • Have a remit-to address in the U.S.
  • Be a business with a U.S. Taxpayer ID number or a tribal entity
  • Comply with FAR flow down provisions FAR 5.501, FAR 5.503, and FAR 52.244-6
  • Sign and agree to a Nondisclosure Agreement
  • Be more effective and efficient in providing paid media coverage for the audiences and languages that are included as part of the paid media campaign than other media vendors also submitting proposals for those audiences and languages

Any new proposals submitted to the vendor portal also had to meet the same requirements as stated above.

The paid media campaign encompasses various media across traditional and digital media channels. The baseline 2020 Census Paid Media Campaign includes the following media channels:

  • National Television
  • National Radio
  • Local Television

  • Local Radio
  • National Print
  • Local Print

  • Out of Home
  • Events
  • Digital

The selection for the media plan that is based on the baseline 2020 Census paid media budget is final. Team Y&R has kept the vendor portal open throughout the campaign, and vendors have been able to submit their best proposal for the audience(s) they reach. Team Y&R will continue to review proposals from vendors that have been submitted to the portal for consideration if and when incremental investment is available. Vendors should not submit proposals directly to the Census Bureau, as proposals must be submitted through the portal for consideration at 2020.wmglobal.com.

Contact Information

Please see the contact information below for agencies managing the 2020 Census Paid Media Campaign. Media vendors should contact Team Y&R for all media buying inquiries, as the U.S. Census Bureau will not be directly contracting with any media vendors for the paid media campaign.

Partner Agency Point of Contact Email Audience/Market
Carol H. Williams Advertising David Scott Jr.,
VP, Grp Planning Dir
2020@carolhwilliams.com Black/African American Audiences
Culture ONE World Raul Aliaga,
Media Director
media@cultureoneworld.com Hispanic/Brazilian Audiences
G&G Advertising Gerald Gray,
Vice President
ggray@gng.net Alaskan Native/American Indian Audiences
Reingold John Otmany,
Dir of Digital Mktg
2020media@reingold.com Digital
TDW+Co Eileen Tran,
Media Director
media@tdwandco.com Asian American Audiences
The Kãlaimoku Group John Aeto,
2020@kalaimoku.com Hawaii/Pacific Islander Audiences
Wavemaker Julie Lee,
Managing Director
2020@wmglobal.com National
Wavemaker PR Lourdes Ocasio,
Managing Partner
2020puertorico@wmglobal.com Puerto Rico
All Press Inquiries Ann Davison,
2020press@vmlyr.com Press/External Stakeholders

For more information regarding the updated 2020 Census Paid Media Campaign or the RFP process, please email 2020@wmglobal.com or visit 2020.wmglobal.com to submit a vendor proposal.

Related Information

Page Last Revised - December 16, 2021
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