My Two Census

Formerly the non-partisan watchdog of the 2010 US Census, and currently an opinion blog that covers all things political, media, foreign policy, globalization, and culture…but sometimes returning to its census/demographics roots.

The Scope Of An Advertising/Marketing Flop…

The Nielsen Ratings are crap. Seriously. These ratings are the results of an antiquated system that relies on statistics from 5,000 Americans to represent more than 300,000,000 Americans. However, YouTube has provided many, many, statistics for the common man (not just the stat-heads over at Census Bureau’s HQ in Suitland, Maryland). So, let us delve into the US Census Bureau’s YouTube channel to see just how few people have watched the ads that have been created for the 2010 Census:

Thus far, the Census Bureau has posted 63 YouTube videos for the 2010 Census. The first video (the boringly iconic “Portrait of America” clip) was posted 10 months ago and the most recent addition (a hip-hop music video geared toward young urbanites)  was posted two days ago. The Portrait of America video has just over 6,500 hits…which would sound pretty pathetic for a 10 month campaign if only it wasn’t revealed that the other six videos posted 10 months ago each received between 347 and 1,305 hits. In the series of videos posted 6 months ago, the most widely-watched video, about the address-canvassing operations, has been viewed a measly 1,083 times. (This means that only a tiny fraction of the workers involved in this process even watched the video…)

Sadly, Census Director Robert M. Groves has not become the YouTube phenom he wished to be, as his four-part panel discussion and swearing in ceremony clips received only 264, 124, 92, 120, and 285 views respectively (over the course of 6 months!!!). If Dr. Groves were trying to make it on network TV, he would have been canned lightyears before Conan…

And most pathetic are the efforts of the Census Bureau to reach out to minority communities…Video testimonials by members of minority communities that were posted 5 months ago have received between 33 and 258 views…and the majority of these videos have been viewed less than 100 times each! Even if the Census Bureau’s own employees who are representing the minority groups (partnership specialists) had viewed their own videos, there should be more views than what is represented on YouTube!

Final Analysis from an untrained marketing expert: As of February 8, 2010, this ad campaign is a colossal failure!

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4 Responses to “The Scope Of An Advertising/Marketing Flop…”

  1. jim Says:

    good point. CBS, for example, has some TWO MONTH old clips that have only been seen by 147, 31, 166, 310, 286, 212, 79, 132, 887, 168, 216, 43, 47, 308, 56, 230, and 482 people. I hope they aren’t trying to be the most watched a network TV station!

  2. Steven Jost, U.S. Census Says:

    Here is the link to the Super Bowl ad. As of 3:30 p.m. Eastern on 2/8/10, over 93,000 views. Up from about 6,000 before the game.

  3. Stephen Robert Morse Says:

    Steven, I appreciate the number…but look at the 64 comments. All but a few are critical of the ad. I fear that the hype surrounding the ad may have had a negative effect on the numbers of people who will complete their census forms, particularly Republicans who were wary to begin with and want to stand against government spending in all forms. My prediction as of now: Democrats score huge at the end of the year based on GOP non-participation.

    On another note, tell me more about your plan to let the public choose the ads. After thinking about this all day, I still feel that it’s more effective to ask the public to create ads, as this promotes a much higher level of interactivity than simply voting, which is generally a pretty passive act.

  4. Anonymous CL Says:

    Ironically, the “Republicans who were wary to begin with and want to stand against government spending in all forms” will cause more money to be wasted when Census enumerators have to make multiple extra visits to their homes to be turned away – we’re not allowed to ‘write off’ a refusal after just one visit, or ignore anyone who failed to mail in a completed form.