ABC updates definition of digital edition

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The Audit Bureau of Circulations released new definitions of what comprises a magazine's digital edition on March 16. The move came after Wired sought review of its iPad version, which will qualify as a “digital replica” under the updated guidelines.

Digital replicas must include the print edition's full editorial and advertising content and all editorial photography. The edition can be reformatted to accommodate the delivery device, as long as editorial and advertising content is presented in a similar fashion to the print version. If a print advertiser opts out of using the digital edition, it can be replaced by a different advertiser. A digital replica's circulation counts towards a publication's core circ numbers.

The alternative to the digital replica is the “digital non-replica,” which does not have to feature advertising or adhere to the print layout as closely, said Neal Lulofs, SVP of communications and strategic planning for ABC.

"Replica digital editions are counted in the core number toward the circ and rate base — that's why there's a difference," he said. "Breaking them out this way really stems from how advertisers want the information audited and presented."

Newspaper publishers can report e-reader distribution averages, mobile app purchases and total paid and verified circulation from products such as branded print editions associated with a flagship newspaper.

ABC's competitor BPA Worldwide reported March 10 that digital copies made up 17.4% of total circulation for all members' December 2009 statements, a 2% increase from June 2009. A BPA representative was not immediately available to comment on how it defines digital editions.

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