Ads for 2020 Census Launching in Alaska

(AP) -- The first ads for the 2020 census launched this week in a remote part of Alaska with plans for an advertising campaign for the rest of the country slated for next month, the U.S. Census Bureau said Thursday.

The advertising launched this week is aimed at residents of 220 small native Alaskan villages where census takers will begin the once-a-decade headcount next month.

The count begins in January in these remote Alaskan villages because the ground is frozen then, allowing easier access than at other times of the year. The kickoff is the third week in January in Toksook Bay, a village on the Bering Sea west of Bethel.

The rest of the country will begin filling out the 2020 census questionnaire in March.

This is the first year the Census Bureau has aired ads targeting the residents of the remote Alaskan villages. The campaign includes full-page print ads, commercial signage, posters, radio ads and digital content.

Nationwide, the Census Bureau plans to spend $500 million on a communications campaign to get people to answer the questionnaire. For the first time, the agency is encouraging a majority of participants to fill it out online, though it can also be filled out by telephone or by mailing a paper form.

The 2020 census will determine how many congressional seats each state gets as well as direct the distribution of $1.5 trillion in federal spending.