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ABC board revises definition of magazine

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Press release from the issuing company

Schaumburg, Ill. - The board of the Audit Bureau of Circulations modified its definition of a digital magazine in the U.S. and Canada to accommodate new reading devices such as the Apple iPad. The new standards state that a replica digital edition must include a print edition's full editorial content and advertising, but it no longer needs to be presented in a layout identical to the print version. Replica digital editions will continue to be included in a magazine's circulation guarantee, or rate base.

The board encouraged publishers planning new e-reader editions or mobile apps to seek ABC evaluation if they would like clarification on qualification and reporting of their digital editions.

ABC confirmed that Wired magazine was the first publication to seek review of its iPad version, which will qualify as a digital replica edition under the bureau's new guidelines. GQ has offered an ABC approved replica app for the iPhone and iPod Touch since December 2009.

"ABC's action is good news and a timely step forward for both publishers and advertisers in advance of the iPad launch," said Brenda White, senior vice president of publishing activation at Starcom and an ABC board member. "It's encouraging to see magazines expanding their brands and taking advantage of new technology. It will take some time, but I'm confident that e-readers and other mobile devices are going to become important channels for marketers to engage with their audiences."
Key Newspaper Actions

In March of 2009 the ABC board and the Newspaper Association of America formed a joint industry task force to examine the evolution of newspapers and the growing number of channels available to advertisers. Over the past year the group has examined such areas as e-readers, mobile platforms, print/digital hybrid models, e-edition definitions, and targeted print publications. Comprised of publishing and marketing executives, the task force was charged with looking at how these dynamic areas were likely to affect future advertising models and how ABC should measure, audit, and report the expanding audience data that stem from these channels.

The group's work culminated last week in a recommendation to the ABC board, which gave its initial approval to create new U.S. reports that better reflect a newspaper's total audience across a range of products. As a result, publishers may begin reporting such items as:
- E-reader distribution averages
- Mobile app purchases
- Total paid and verified circulation emanating from multiple newspaper products, including branded print editions associated with the flagship newspaper. These circulations will be detailed in the report and totaled with all circulation in Paragraph 1.
- A new "Publishing Plan" executive summary box on the first page, noting frequency, delivery platforms, and distribution methods across a publisher's various print and electronic editions.
- Continued use of Audience-FAX, the 2007 initiative that allows U.S. newspapers to report print and online readership figures, as well as Web site and audience data from comScore, Nielsen Online, Omniture, or other sources audited by ABC Interactive.

These new reporting options will be available to U.S. newspapers beginning Oct. 1, 2010. They coincide with the implementation of several previously announced rule modifications, including a new paid/verified reporting model aimed at more clearly defining paid circulation sources.

"I want to personally thank everyone who served on our joint industry task force," said Merle Davidson, director of media services at J.C. Penney Co. and chairman of the ABC board. "A newspaper today is much more than a traditional print product. We now have a roadmap in place to present a myriad of existing and emerging channels to media buyers in a consistent fashion, following industry-established standards, with the full transparency and trust that comes with an ABC audit."

The board also approved new guidelines governing hybrid and bundled print/digital subscriptions to address occurrences when a subscriber does not pay an incremental amount for the additional distribution method.

ABC also said it would initiate an advisory vote of its U.S. and Canadian newspaper members next month, in accordance with its bylaw procedures. Publishers will be asked if ABC should eliminate or lower the requirement that a newspaper's total distribution must have at least 70 percent qualify as paid circulation in order to become a member of the bureau. The results of the nonbinding vote will be considered at the next ABC board meeting in July.

Other Key ABC Board Actions
The magazine committee of the ABC board continues to discuss scan-based trading and the implications for auditing and reporting of retail newsstand sales. Last week the board heard input from its advisory committees and a task force dedicated to the topic. The issue centers on the lack of per-issue data available from many scan-based systems and how to account for "shrink"-the difference between the number of magazines delivered to a retail outlet minus unsold copies, versus the amount identified as sold in its scan system. ABC is continuing to work toward an industry resolution it hopes to announce later this year.

For U.S. and Canadian business publications, the ABC board approved streamlining of Paragraph 3B of the Publisher's Statement, which details sources of nonpaid circulation. Beginning with June 2010 statements, publishers may simply report a total for each source.

ABC also announced the appointment of Todd Larsen, president of Dow Jones & Co., to the board.




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