Census data is an important resource in helping governments understand the makeup and needs of their citizens. But low census completion rates can complicate this effort to survey residents and determine what services, resources and budgetary commitments are needed to properly support these communities.

After struggling to address a low census completion rate among its Hispanic residents, one city in the Southwestern United States approached Cox Media looking for creative solutions to increase census participation among this segment of their population. Cox then collaborated with the city government to identify the goals and challenges of building a digital campaign to support these local census efforts.

The Goal

To improve its census data and improve decision-making regarding local governance policies and strategies, the Southwestern U.S. city was eager for innovative strategies that would increase census completion rates where other participation strategies had failed.

This strategy was primarily focused on the local Hispanic population, which was experiencing low participation due to a lack of awareness of the census—both in terms of the survey itself, and in regards to how the data would be used to guide decision-making at the government level.

To address this challenge, the government was eager to implement an awareness campaign that would increase referral and completion rates for those census surveys. Because the census was facing a deadline for completion, this campaign also needed to deliver results under a tight time constraint.

The Solution

To determine where to target the ad campaign within the city, Cox Media first evaluated U.S. Census data to identify which parts of the city experienced the lowest census participation rates. These regions then became the focal point for a digital ad campaign utilizing the following channels:

  • Over-the-top (OTT) streaming video
  • Pre-roll digital video
  • Digital audio

As part of this ad strategy, the messaging across these channels emphasized the important role census data plays in determining the level of federal funding the city would be eligible to receive in support of various local programs and initiatives. The campaigns emphasized the message that, by failing to participate in this national survey, residents of the city were at risk of receiving less support and access to valuable resources and programs.

The Results

In addition to the initial deadline set for the census, public health concerns prompted the courts to move up the deadline for gathering completed surveys. This shortened the window in which the city and Cox Media were able to drive results and generate a positive ROI for these campaigns.

In spite of those challenges, the campaign was successful in delivering the following results:

  • More than 900,000 ad impressions in a 30-day window;
  • An average CTR of 0.54 percent, beating the industry average by nearly 175 percent;
  • An overall increase in survey completion rates of five to seven percent, depending on the region of the city being targeted.

With a clear target audience and effective messaging to spread awareness, Cox Media was able to guide its government client to strong results and better census participation, even when accounting for the multiple challenges facing these efforts.

Find out how Cox Media can help your government agency execute its own public outreach campaigns—contact us today to learn more.

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