ABC Modifies Requirements for Digital Magazines

By: Audit Bureau of Circulations

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. (March 22, 2011) – Responding to advances in digital publishing, the board of the Audit Bureau of Circulations agreed to modify the requirements for qualifying U.S. and Canadian consumer magazines as replica digital editions. While editorial content and photography must continue to be the same in both print and electronic versions, advertising may now differ. In addition, publishers are no longer required to secure an opt-out confirmation from advertisers that are unable to submit reformatted digital files in time or simply do not want their print ads to appear in digital editions.

ABC President Mike Lavery noted that the changes are more accommodating to digital publishing deadlines and realities. “Early magazine digital editions were commonly PDFs of the print version, so ABC required a digital replica to be just that-an exact version of the print issue,” Lavery said. “But with today’s advanced publishing software for tablet devices like the iPad, the environment is far richer and more complex. Even static print ads often require reformatting for digital publication. These production requirements can put a burden on the deadline-driven communication between client, agency, and publisher to ultimately determine the advertiser’s wishes, especially for fractional and classified buys. The new parameters simplify the process, make the advertiser’s intent clear, and streamline the audit requirements.”

Replica digital editions that meet the new ABC standards will continue to qualify as paid circulation and be credited toward rate base. Additional details are on ABC’s website.


The ABC board also fine-tuned some of its U.S. newspaper rules for digital editions. It clarified that a digital subscription offer without a definitive term may qualify as paid for no more than 30 days. After that it may be reported as “verified,” provided the content is accessed at least monthly.

The board continues to analyze some other digital edition standards that are set to take effect in October, including the reporting of gross and net subscribers. It has asked for additional input from ABC U.S. advisory committees for consideration at its next meeting in July.

Canadian newspapers continue to study the paid/verified and smaller circulation models adopted in the U.S. The ABC board expects to consider recommendations for Canada in July.

The board also gave final approval to broader standards for ABC newspaper membership, moving the threshold for weekly U.S. and Canadian newspapers from a minimum 70 percent paid circulation to 50 percent. For U.S. daily newspapers the minimum paid circulation requirement remains at 70 percent, but the board agreed that this calculation excludes the new category of branded editions.

Business Publications
To take advantage of online registration tools and limit the costs of re-qualifying subscribers of business publications, the ABC board agreed to eliminate the need for a personal identification question if the subscriber is required to provide a unique name and password when re-qualifying. Further, if publishers make recordings of qualification efforts available for the audit, no personal identification question is required.

New Directors Elected
ABC elected four new directors to its North American board:
• Steve Mueller, COO, NSA Media, representing U.S. advertising agencies
• Steve Sachs, executive vice president, consumer marketing and sales, Time Inc., representing U.S. consumer magazines
• Terry Snow, CEO, Bonnier Corporation, representing U.S. consumer magazines
• Alex Tamayo, senior vice president, media strategy, PHD, representing U.S. advertising agencies

The ABC board of directors meeting was held March 16-17 in Fort Myers, Fla. For a complete summary of board actions, visit ABC’s Virtual Pressroom.

ABC is a forum of North America’s leading magazine and newspaper publishers, advertisers and advertising agencies. The organization provides credible, verified information essential to the media buying and selling process. ABC maintains the world’s foremost online database of audited circulation information and a growing array of readership, audience and website usage data. ABC’s digital arm, ABC Interactive, is one of the world’s leading independent auditors of websites and digital ad-based technology. To learn more, visit

Follow by Email
Visit Us

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *