Next week’s FAS-FAX circulation report will reflect new Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC) rules and will look different than previous versions. An ABC release explains:
In FAS-FAX reports prior to March 2011, the top-line metric that was commonly reported was “Total Paid Circulation.” This category no longer exists on ABC reports. The new top-line number is “Total Average Circulation,” which consists of a publication’s paid and verified print and digital editions. Total average circulation also includes any paid and verified branded editions.
Details about the ABC changes are after the jump.
April 25, 2011
Newspaper FAS-FAX and Audience-FAX Fact Sheet
On Tuesday, May 3, ABC will release newspaper circulation and audience data for the six months ending March 31, 2011, via FAS-FAX, an ABC quarterly report of top-line circulation data for all ABC members that file a Publisher’s Statement. The semiannual newspaper FAS-FAX reports are released in the spring and fall.
The FAS-FAX report will be posted in ABC’s online database by 9 a.m. ET. A supplemental FAS-FAX report for the March 2011 period will be released May 16. A complete FAS-FAX schedule is available on ABC’s website.
U.S. Newspaper Rule Changes
On Oct. 1, 2010, ABC implemented the final phase of a broad set of strategic rule modifications — more than two years in the making — for U.S. newspapers. The March 2011 FAS-FAX report is the first to reflect these rule changes.
Newspaper publishers and advertisers agreed upon these new standards to build a new framework for the qualification and reporting of newspaper media across multiple publishing platforms.
The rule changes were comprised of three major parts:
Adoption of a new paid/verified circulation reporting model
* Paid circulation is defined as copies purchased by the individual recipient or a specialized distribution channel (business/traveler)
* Verified circulation includes much of what used to be reported in “other” paid circulation (including third-party copies and copies distributed to schools and newspaper employees)
Creation of the branded editions category of circulation
* Branded editions are any editions of the newspaper that are published at least weekly, have a different name than the ABC-member newspaper, but are labeled to include the word “edition.” Examples of branded editions may include commuter, community or alternative-language newspapers.
* Branded editions are included in “Total Average Circulation.”
Comprehensive reporting of replica and nonreplica digital editions
* Publisher’s Statements and Audit Reports distinguish between replica and nonreplica digital editions, which both need to have restricted access. Replica editions must have the same editorial, layout and ROP advertising as the print version. Nonreplica editions must maintain the print version’s basic identity, although its editorial and advertising content may differ.
* Nonreplica copies will be detailed on how they were accessed (i.e., via a restricted access website, an e-reader or a mobile device).
* In FAS-FAX, replica and nonreplica editions will be broken out for the ABC-member newspaper.
Implications of March 2011 FAS-FAX Report
The March 2011 FAS-FAX report reflects the new rules and will look different than previous versions. In FAS-FAX reports prior to March 2011, the top-line metric that was commonly reported was “Total Paid Circulation.” This category no longer exists on ABC reports. The new top-line number is “Total Average Circulation,” which consists of a publication’s paid and verified print and digital editions. Total average circulation also includes any paid and verified branded editions.
Because of the new and redefined categories of circulation on this FAS-FAX report, ABC recommends not making any direct comparisons of March 2011 data to prior audit periods. The 2010 and 2011 data will be presented in two separate sections in the March and September 2011 FAS-FAX reports.
A list of frequently asked questions regarding the rule changes and the March 2011 FAS-FAX report is available below.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why were these changes made?
The newspaper industry has been transitioning in the past few years. Publishing platforms have emerged and changed, and the qualification and reporting of newspaper media needs to reflect that environment. The changes implemented last October were the culmination of more than two years of collaboration between newspaper publishers, advertisers and agencies to build a new framework for the measurement and reporting of newspaper media. The changes are designed to help newspapers provide a more comprehensive view of their publishing platforms and audiences, while giving media buyers more transparency into how newspapers reach their markets.
When did these rule changes become effective?
The ABC board has discussed and implemented the changes to U.S. newspaper rules in phases for more than two years. The most recent changes, including those to branded editions, digital editions and verified circulation, became effective Oct. 1, 2010. The March 31, 2011, Publisher’s Statements and FAS-FAX report will reflect the first six months of these rule changes. Rules surrounding digital edition subscriptions are effective Oct. 1, 2011.
What is the difference between a replica and nonreplica digital edition?
For any digital edition — replica or nonreplica — to qualify on ABC reports, its access must be restricted to subscribers or registered users.
A replica digital edition must have the same editorial, layout and ROP advertising as the print version (for example, an exact PDF of the print edition).
A nonreplica digital edition must be restricted and it also must maintain the basic identity and editorial home of the print version, although its editorial and advertising content may differ (for example, a restricted-access website or an app version of the newspaper).
Replica and nonreplica digital editions’ circulation are included in the top-line Total Average Circulation number.
Were digital editions reported on previous reports?
Yes, they were reported as “electronic editions.” The new reporting requirements call for greater detail. Replica and nonreplica editions are now listed separately on ABC reports. Publisher’s Statements and Audit Reports will further detail nonreplica editions by the type of device used (restricted-access websites, e-readers and tablets with and without advertising, and mobile devices).
Is there a way to tell if a digital edition is read via a website, iPad app or Kindle download?
The FAS-FAX report only includes top-line data for ABC-member newspapers. Additional details about digital editions, including distribution platform, will be available on Publisher’s Statements and Audit Reports.
What are branded editions? Why are they now included?
Branded editions are editions of an ABC-member publication that can be geared toward a specific community or demographic. The branded edition must contain “An edition of (ABC-member publication)” in its masthead and be published at least weekly. If the branded edition does not contain editorial content, the subscriber must specifically request the publication. Branded editions are counted toward a publication’s Total Average Circulation.
Print products are transforming to reach consumers with information and advertising targeted to their specific needs and interests. The inclusion of branded editions on ABC reports represents this shift in how newspapers are reaching their consumers.
How can I find the names of the branded editions?
Because FAS-FAX only includes top-line data for ABC-member newspapers, the titles of branded editions are not included in the report. The full names of all branded editions will be included on Publisher’s Statements and Audit Reports.
Some newspapers that were previously ABC-member newspapers are now branded editions. These newspapers are now listed and detailed on their ABC-member’s Publisher’s Statements and Audit Reports.
How many newspapers include branded editions in their total circulation?
More than 50 U.S. newspapers are expected to include branded editions in the March 2011 FAS-FAX report.
What is verified circulation? Is this a new category?
Verified circulation is, in fact, an established category at ABC. In 2006, the consumer magazine division implemented a paid/verified model that was well received and is in use today. For newspapers, this is a new category. Much of what used to be considered “other” paid circulation is now under “verified.”
Paid circulation now represents copies purchased by an individual subscriber or distributed through specialized channels, such as those paid by a hotel for its guests (business/traveler).
Verified circulation refers to requested home-delivered copies, subscriptions purchased by a third party, NIE copies and employee copies.
What happened to the other paid circulation category heading? Third-party sales? Educational copies?
Other paid circulation, third-party sales and educational copies are no longer headings included in the FAS-FAX report. Much of what used to be considered “other” paid circulation, including third-party sales and NIE copies is now reported as “verified” circulation and included in the total average circulation number. Details about verified circulation will be included on newspapers’ Publisher’s Statements and Audit Reports.
Why isn’t ABC doing a year-over-year comparison for the overall industry average?
The rule changes reclassified where many of the previous copies were counted. Prior categories were reworked or eliminated, and new categories were added. For example, some newspapers are now reporting branded editions (included in Total Average Circulation) when they did not report those editions in previous periods. The March 2011 FAS-FAX categories, therefore, are not comparable to the 2010 categories to calculate an accurate year-over-year comparison for the overall industry average.
How do I find a newspaper’s paid circulation number? What about its verified circulation?
Total Average Circulation on the newspaper FAS-FAX report details the ABC-member’s print and digital total circulation as well as branded editions. The details of a newspaper’s paid and verified circulation for the ABC-member as well as any branded editions will be available when the individual Publisher’s Statements are released in the coming weeks. Members of the accredited press may receive complimentary access to these statements by contacting ABC for a user login and password.
Why isn’t ABC disclosing paid or verified circulation figures?
FAS-FAX is meant to give a top-line overview of the Publisher’s Statements submitted in the newspaper industry. This report traditionally has not included as much detail as available in Publisher’s Statements or Audit Reports. In the FAS-FAX report, paid and verified numbers are combined in the totals for each category. Paid and verified circulation figures will be detailed in individual Publisher’s Statements, which will be released in the coming weeks.
For individual newspapers, can I compare the 2011 figures to the previous year’s figures?
Due to the comprehensive nature of the changes and creation of new distribution categories to ABC’s rules and report formats, ABC recommends not making direct comparisons of March 2011 data to prior audit periods.
Is there any historical information in the March 2011 FAS-FAX report?
Yes. Newspapers’ total average paid circulation data for the six months ending March 31, 2010, is available in the second section of the PDF FAS-FAX report and in a separate tab of the Excel report. Again, due to the nature of the changes, ABC advises against making any direct comparisons of March 2011 data to prior audit periods.
Can you explain the categories on the March FAS-FAX report?
The print version of FAS-FAX incorporates line items for day-of-week reporting frequencies. It only reflects averages for Sunday, combined Monday-Friday and Saturday. The electronic version of FAS-FAX contains the total average circulation for each day of the week.
If the newspaper is an active participant in Audience-FAX, data will include:
Past 7-day print readership
Past 7-day print readership reach
Past 30-day online readership
Net combined print and online readership
Total unique users of a newspaper’s website
Total Average Circulation is broken out and includes:
Total average circulation for the period
Total circulation excluding branded editions
What is a newspaper Consolidated Media Report?
ABC’s Consolidated Media Report is an optional report that allows newspapers to feature a variety of products in their portfolio, including paid newspaper distribution, free newspaper products, e-mail newsletters, website traffic, social media metrics and more. ABC independently verifies all of the data on a CMR. Top-line data from these reports are featured in ABC’s CMR-FAX. To date, ABC has released 41 consolidated media reports for 19 U.S. newspapers.