Countdown: ABC Adopts Changes In Circulation Reporting

The Audit Bureau of Circulations has adopted a series of new rules and standards governing circulation reporting at U.S. newspapers, with the goal of providing more relevant information to publishers and advertisers, the organization announced Tuesday. The changes come at the recommendation of an industry panel, including almost two dozen newspaper and ad executives.

Among the main changes, the ABC will revise the definition of paid circulation to more accurately reflect real sales. It will begin reporting "other paid circulation" as "verified." This distinguishes between free distribution sponsored by schools or event organizers, for example, and actual newsstand sales or individual subscriptions. At the same time, ABC will reclassify copies distributed by hotels and group subscriptions paid for by businesses in a new paid-circulation category.

In line with these changes, ABC will revise its Publisher's Statements and Audit Reports to give a summary of total average circulation, including paid and verified, as well as the specific distribution channel.



The ABC also loosened some restrictions on consumer magazine distribution strategies. Here, the ABC board voted to increase the number of magazines the publishers can give to hotels and airlines under "verified circulation." Consumer magazines published monthly, or less frequently, can now give a maximum of four copies per room to hotels, up from two. For airlines, they may distribute two copies per flight, based on a monthly average of flights.

Finally, the ABC approved development of a new online tool for forecasting circulation, which will allow advertisers to better plan the logistics of ad campaigns, including printing and scheduling. This Web-based software, already tested by several publishers, uses data provided by newspaper publishers. It should be available in early 2008.

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