ABC Tightens Sponsored-Sales Rules for Consumer Pubs

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The Audit Bureau of Circulations stiffened sponsored-sales rules for consumer magazines at its board meeting July 13-16, a measure adopted recently by rival media auditor BPA Worldwide for its own members.

In other changes, ABC approved new formats for magazine and newspaper publishers' statements. The Schaumburg, IL, organization also disqualified circulation from subscription sales agent EBSCO Consumer Magazine Services and in-flight agent programs.

Continuing a process begun last year, ABC's board unanimously voted to tighten rules on how third-party consumer magazine sponsor programs can qualify as paid circulation.

Starting with their January 2006 issue, ABC requires publishers to receive payment at a qualifying price "net of all other considerations," including agent marketing and distribution fees.

Also, the board narrowed the definition of eligible magazine subscription sponsors by insisting that sponsors sell their products directly to consumers.

A newly formatted "pink sheet" publisher's statement will reflect these rule changes and reposition some forms of sponsored subscriptions in a new category. The new statement will include an executive summary of circulation in paragraph one covering paid, "public place" and designated recipients, ABC said.

The new statement also will give advertisers more data, including profiles by circulation channel and category. It promises to be easier to read and understand. The new format debuts with the June 2006 publisher's statement period.

Mickey Alam Khan covers Internet marketing campaigns and e-commerce, agency news as well as circulation for DM News and To keep up with the latest developments in these areas, subscribe to our daily and weekly e-mail newsletters by visiting

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