Reaching 309 million people through the U.S. Census

Geoffrey Precourt

It is a house-to-house survey that uses – and tests – the fundamental tools of market research in a manner they've ever been tested before. It is the largest such effort in history – a fitting opening act for the Advertising Research Foundation's (ARF) largest annual Audience Measurement Conference.

The decennial census is more than just a statistical exercise. In fact, the largest single piece of marketing research in history tracks back to a 1790 Congressional act that called for report every 10 years to properly align the membership of the House of Representatives with an accurate representation of the country's population.

The 2010 effort will, in theory, reach 309 million people. In practice, the program began in January with an introductory advertising program, the first part of a $350-million effort that, said Groves, will be measured in its success in touching "absolutely everyone."