CFPB Spends Big to Reach Consumers Online
The CFPB wants to make more consumers aware of its watchdog mission and is spending big to ensure that: $15.3 million so far in fiscal 2016, making the federal agency among the biggest government advertisers, according to reports and an online database.
The money has gone to Google and other Web ads, with the campaign geared toward consumers who go online to search and comparison shop for mortgages, loans and similar financial products. The ads lead, for example, student borrowers and their parents to the agency Website for more information about how much loans for college cost in the long term, and other such data.
“We began the digital marketing effort in 2013 with the goal of getting our tools and resources into the hands of consumers who need them,” says a CFPB spokesman. “Since then, millions of consumers have come to the CFPB and used our resources to submit a complaint about a financial product or service, better understand the home-buying process, or navigate paying for college.”
The portion of the CFPB budget—2.5 percent—that goes to advertising is behind only such heavyweights as the U.S. Departments of Defense and Treasury, according to reports and the database, USASpending.gov. The CFPB’s estimated budget for fiscal 2016 stands at $605.9 million. For fiscal 2017, that budget is expected to increase 5 percent to $636.1 million. It was not immediately clear if advertising spend also would increase in the next fiscal year, though the agency does anticipate using some of the increase next year “to raise public awareness of Bureau tools and resources,” according to its budget and planning document.
The advertising kicks come amid ongoing pressures on the 5-year-old agency and the Dodd-Frank act from which the CFPB emerged. Earlier this month, for instance, Chairman of the House Financial Services Committee Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) said he soon would introduce a bill that would overturn major provisions of the Dodd-Frank act, changes that could lead to a less powerful CFPB. Part of the ongoing effort against the agency includes TV ads funded by a conservative group that, in the words of the Wall Street Journal, portray “it as an oppressive Soviet-style bureaucracy.” Several companies have sued the agency, calling its power structure unconstitutional.
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