Scroll to explore
ClickTap to break through
ClickTap to be fearless

U.S. Census


US Census



Positive Provocation

We positively provoked the biggest headcount in history and broke Google in the process with our data processing demands.

1 / 2

Educating 328.2 million U.S. residents on the importance of the 2020 Census during a pandemic was a huge challenge. A once-a-decade campaign, the Decennial Census is a population and housing count of all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the Island Areas – and the objective was to motivate all people living these areas to self-respond to the 2020 Census.


Of course, Wavemaker’s strategy was upended early in 2020 with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. When remodeling their approach – Wavemaker had to contend with:

  1. Reaching audiences across all age groups and native languages in all 50 states
  2. The limitations of in-person canvassing as well as increased scrutiny across audiences (and political parties) in light of an election year

People were no longer living where they normally resided, and it was unknown when Census enumerators would be able to start their jobs. Consumer media behavior changed overnight.


To combat the Census message getting lost in the noise of the pandemic, social justice and political race news, Wavemaker pivoted its paid media plans and worked with clients and partners to adjust and optimize. To meet the daunting task, Wavemaker abandoned decades of infrastructure and rebuilt data storage and processing from the ground up.

We created a scalable solution within our cloud platform, with custom python scripts to pull, extract and transform data at the core of the brand-new infrastructure.


Ultimately, the campaign ran over 1,000 different ads in 44 languages with over 9,600 media partners over the course of 10 months. These targeted, nationwide touchpoints included:

  • National and local media, such as TV, Radio, Print, OOH, Digital, Social, Search, Programmatic, etc
  • Hyperlocal media to reach the especially hard to reach areas, including OTA TV, hyper local radio, zip based digital targeting, and local events
  • In-language media, supporting 44 languages, across traditional media, digital media, events, and sponsorships
  • Alternative media to adjust for changing consumer behavior during COVID, such as virtual events such as concerts and commencements, gas store/convenience store/grocery store placements, on-bag advertising, pizza box advertising, and fundraising events


With response as the KPI and measure of success – Wavemaker delivered.  By the end of the campaign, in September 2020, the U.S Census Bureau achieved a response rate of 99.98%.

Our people and products drove tremendous results, the U.S. Census campaign’s response rate exceeded 100% relative to expected benchmark.

Response Rate

Growth Stories