ABC board approves new initiatives, regulations

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The Audit Bureau of Circulations' board of directors last week approved changes in report regulations and verified circulation measurement.

Under the newly approved initiative, dubbed Audience-FAX, US newspapers may include estimates of in-market print, online and net combined readership in this fall's ABC circulation reports.

"It was part of a multilevel initiative to help advertisers get easy access to all this measurement data so they could fully understand a newspaper's entire reach and audience," said Kammi Altig, communications manager at ABC.

"This will give them a one-stop shop," he added. "The online database will allow them to generate reports to compare different markets across their buy."

Scarborough Research will measure these new numbers. Reports of monthly Web site unique visitors by Nielsen/NetRatings, comScore Inc. or server-based analytics tools will also be allowed in the reports.

All estimates will be independently audited by the ABC. The information will be available to ABC members through an industry database created and hosted by Scarborough Research.

Audience-FAX is set to launch on November 5 and will cover the six-month ABC reporting period that starts in September.

The ABC board also approved a new form that allows consumer magazines to report print and online activity in the same document. The report, which will be sent to advertisers, will detail print circulation by issue as well as unique users, total visits, average visit duration and most popular sections for the publication's Web site.

In unanimous votes, the board modified rules concerning verified circulation and sponsored sales for consumer magazines. The changes say that back issues of magazines served to public sites can no longer be classified as verified. Back issues sent to individuals may no longer be claimed as sponsored or verified unless the individual has requested the material.

Additionally, public-place magazine subscriptions sponsored by advertisers or other parties must now be reported as "verified" rather than "paid."

Altig described the modified rules as not necessarily stricter but as ABC's way of addressing verified as a new circulation category. Verified was first recognized as a category in June 2006.

"As a forum, ABC has listened to agency leaders, advertisers and buyers, and we've gathered feedback from the industry on verified and how it's being used," Altig said. "These changes are reflections on how the marketplace views verified circulation."

ABC, based in Schaumburg, IL, is a forum for magazine and newspaper publishers, advertisers and ad agencies. It has more than 4,000 members in North America.

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