Major Ad Industry Trade Associations Oppose Census Citizenship Question

August 10, 2018

By Bill Duggan

Andrii Yalanskyi/<

Earlier this week the major trade associations representing the advertising industry — the 4A's, AAF, ANA, and ARF — jointly wrote to the Department of Congress to express our opposition to the addition of the new census question that asks, "Is this person a citizen of the United States?"

We are concerned that the addition of a citizenship question would depress response among both non-citizens and their families (even if family members are indeed citizens). That runs the risk of non-respondent bias by significantly undercounting immigrant, minority, and low-income populations. If immigrants and others avoid the national head-count, the census results will be flawed.

This raises significant issues in the world of marketing, as flawed results would distort the representation of U.S. population estimates and the research benchmarked to it. Since the census is the foundation for population estimates that support the marketing industry, inaccurate census data would lead to misallocated marketing resources. It could have a particularly negative impact on media that serve multicultural communities, the companies which research them, and the agencies which help advertise to them. The value marketers see in those consumer segments would be understated and investments reduced.

See the full letter here.


Bill Duggan is a group EVP at the ANA.

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