ABC Broadens Standards for Newspaper Membership, Mulls Magazine Reporting Changes
(Press Release) ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill., Nov. 16, 2010—At its meeting last week in Toronto, the board of the Audit Bureau of Circulations agreed to broaden its standards for newspaper membership.
If, as expected, the action receives final approval in March, weekly newspapers in the U.S. and Canada would need to have at least half of their distribution qualify as paid to be members of ABC, down from the current minimum requirement of 70 percent.
For daily newspapers the minimum paid circulation requirement remains at 70 percent, but the board agreed that this calculation exclude the new U.S. category of branded editions.
The board's actions follow a September advisory vote in which 96 percent of ABC newspapers indicated they favored these steps.
"Newspapers overwhelmingly support these moves because they better reflect the realities of today's multiplatform environment, where publishers are providing rich content across an array of print and digital products," noted Merle Davidson, director of media services at J.C. Penney Co. and chairman of the ABC board. "As a national advertiser, I welcome these diverse publishing channels and audiences, and I want to ensure that they are audited to the high standards for which ABC is known."
The ABC board also gave final approval to U.S. newspaper rules that govern branded editions and single-price subscriptions where content is available across multiple platforms and devices, such as media tablets and mobile apps.
The board modified some of its initial July rulings, including a new requirement that newspaper publishers report both total circulation and net unduplicated subscribers. The board also agreed to move the effective date of some changes to Oct. 1, 2011, to allow U.S. publishers time to prepare for the modified changes. For more details visit ABC's website.
The ABC board received an update from a consumer magazine task force that is exploring future publishing platforms and how to best incorporate those distribution methods on ABC reports. At its most recent meeting, the task force established several guiding principles:
- ABC reporting and verification of a publication's distribution-print and digital-is important.
- Reporting of distribution and payment for each digital platform will be a key metric as digital circulation continues to grow.
- ABC data should include both gross distribution and net unduplicated subscribers for all platforms.
- Website traffic metrics for digital delivery are valuable and should be included on ABC reports.
- Publisher's Statements should include nonreplica digital apps and other print editions of the magazine.
"It's vital that ABC continues to adapt to meet the needs of its constituents," said David Leckey, executive vice president of consumer marketing at American Media Inc. and chairman of the ABC board's magazine committee. "The goal of this effort is to help publishers present advertisers with a more comprehensive picture of a magazine's publishing channels-across print and digital platforms-while providing the transparency and data required by media planners and buyers."