Summary of March 2013 U.S. Board Actions
March 19, 2013
Arlington Heights, Ill. (March 19, 2013) — The following are highlights of the actions taken by the Alliance for Audited Media board of directors at its meeting held March 14-15. Updates to AAM’s bylaws and rules are posted on AAM’s website within weeks following each board meeting.
The board took no actions affecting business publications.
Board Reaffirms Value of Audited Digital Tablet Metrics
The AAM board reaffirmed its position that digital use metrics for tablets and mobile devices are a vital part of a magazine’s total brand view and should be audited by AAM and reported in its Media Intelligence Center. AAM will continue to work with the MPA, the 4A’s, and other groups to evaluate how key metrics are audited and reported. AAM’s digital audit team has extensive experience in this area and is working with the MPA to help develop underlying details to existing definitions and establish technical parameters to make them auditable and comparable across the industry.
AAM’s advisory committees will continue to provide input. An update is expected in July.
As part of an initiative to provide the marketplace with more frequent data, the board gave its final approval to a new Rule F 4.2 Rapid Report. U.S. magazines with circulation of 250,000 and over will report issue-by-issue data via AAM’s Rapid Report tool beginning in July 2013. Rapid Report filing will remain optional for publications with circulation under 250,000.
Initial data must be submitted by the end of the month following the month of the issue. (For example, July issue data must be posted by Aug. 31.) Publishers may update submitted data through the time publisher’s statements are filed. The board also agreed to actions if a magazine does not comply with the rule. In general, AAM will notify the member throughout the month that data has not been submitted, and the magazine has 30 days following the deadline to submit data before additional action is taken. More information for members about requirements and guidelines is available here.
The board agreed to modify Rule F 8.14 Credit Subscriptions and Rule F 15.1 Verified Circulation. Copies served on credit but not paid may be claimed as verified individual use circulation. These copies can also be claimed as unpaid distribution. These rules are effective with issues dated July 2013.
The magazine publisher and buyer committees have discussed scan-based trading to determine newsstand sales for AAM reporting for some time. In November, the board gave initial approval to allow “shrink” when scan-based trading is used to report single-copy sales. Shrink is the difference between the sales calculated from the physical inventory and copies listed as sold in the scan system.
At this meeting, the board approved new Rule F 1.6 Reporting of Newsstand Copies Using Scan-Based Trading Information. If a magazine does use scan-based trading, the rule outlines a shrink-allowance scale based on average print single-copy sales:
Total Print Single-Copy Sales
Shrink Allowance (Applied to Portion of Single Copies Sold Using Scan-Based Trading)
50,000 or less
More than 50,000 but less than 150,000
150,000 or more
The explanatory paragraph of AAM reports will reference the percentage of shrink in single-copy sales. The board also supported the need for an audit to ensure valid processes were followed for establishing the control stores, gathering and processing data to determine shrink credit, and assigning issues.
Because this environment continues to evolve, the board agreed that the magazine committees will review this topic annually.
AAM Reviewing Unlimited Access Magazine Program
AAM has extended its test period until March 2014 with Next Issue Media to review its program that offers unlimited magazine access for a set price. AAM is reviewing information related to subscriber behavior to include magazine selection/request, rate of issue download, and time spent with the issues. During the test period, circulation will count as paid single copies if the consumer pays for the program and requests a specific magazine. This circulation will also be noted in the explanatory paragraph of AAM reports. When AAM’s review is complete later this year, publishers will develop a recommendation for future qualification and reporting standards for unlimited access programs such as Next Issue Media.
Newspapers have historically been required to label their editions as morning, evening or all-day products. Most newspapers, however, now produce content throughout the day through multiple channels. To update AAM reports and improve processes in AAM’s Media Intelligence Center, the board agreed to eliminate the morning, evening and all-day designations. To accomplish this, Rule C 2.2 Morning, Evening, All Day and Sunday Designations, Rule C 2.3 National Advertising Sold in Morning and Evening Editions as a Unit and Rule C 7.2 List of ZIP Codes and Towns Receiving 25 or More Copies will be modified.
Daily newspapers with average circulation of 50,000 or more are required to report circulation by week day and a Monday through Friday average. Since the adoption of current reporting standards in 2010, publishers have modified their subscription types, incorporated branded editions and embraced digital platforms in lieu of print distribution on certain week days. As a result many publications report circulation averages that vary greatly from one day to another.
The board considered these issues and agreed that the five-day average no longer accurately represents daily newspaper circulation across multiple channels. The board gave its initial approval to eliminate the five-day average requirement as described in Rule C 2.1 Circulation Averages. A five-day average will be optional, as will additional daily combination averages.AAM’s Snapshot report will continue to show circulation metrics for all days newspapers with circulation over 50,000 are published in print or digital.
The AAM board granted an exception to allow 13 newspapers that had a recent reduction in print or distribution frequency to report by day of week in lieu of the five-day average. Other newspapers that have had a recent change to print frequency or home-delivery distribution may contact their publisher relations managers to discuss the average that will be reported for March. Newspapers must contact AAM by March 31 for consideration.
When AAM acquired the Certified Audit of Circulations last fall, the groups agreed that CAC would adopt AAM’s U.S. newspaper report format to synchronize reports for a searchable, unified database.
Many CAC members distribute circulation that qualifies as nonpaid under AAM rules. While AAM does audit nonpaid newspapers, they must be owned or operated by paid newspaper members and are typically not included on AAM’s core reports. If CAC did adopt AAM's current report formats, CAC members with nonpaid circulation would not be able to aggregate all categories for total circulation and would have to report nonpaid circulation on a separate report.
To address these issues, the AAM board endorsed amending AAM's U.S. newspaper report format to include nonpaid distribution in paragraph 1 and in total average circulation. The AAM board also endorsed changes to AAM's database to include nonpaid distribution in market-level searches. The board will further discuss modifications to AAM’s U.S. newspaper report format to include nonpaid distribution and a set of new rules to support the revised report format. It’s anticipated that the revised report formats will be effective with the September 2014 reporting period.
As CAC members transition to AAM’s U.S. newspaper report formats, the AAM board agreed that CAC members will pay the same fees as AAM members for report processing, quality control and inclusion in the Media Intelligence Center.
Newspapers Discussing Interim Circulation, Digital, ZIP Code Data Filing
A joint publisher/buyer newspaper task force has been working to establish broad guidelines for a new report format and a filing tool for more frequent circulation, digital and ZIP code data. At this meeting, the board discussed a number of business rules surrounding new input tools and filing deadlines for U.S. newspapers. The task force, newspaper committees and AAM staff are working toward completion of the input tools, reporting options and rules later this year.
New Directors, Treasurer Join North American Board
The following new directors were appointed to AAM’s North American board:
- Stephen Bernard, vice president, advertising, The McClatchy Company, representing U.S. newspapers
- Debbie Sklar, vice president, director of print services, Horizon Media, representing U.S. advertising agencies
- David Strome, vice present, media services—Americas, LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton, representing U.S. advertisers
Kirk Davis, president and COO of GateHouse Media, was named AAM board treasurer, replacing resigning director Scott Heekin-Canedy.