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Business Magazines - rule changes

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This section details the changes to the UK Business Magazines Reporting Standards.


Issued September 2016

  • Optional analyses - You can report, with ABC's agreement, additional information on the certificate. ABC will review the request and confirm whether the information can be reported and any associated cost

  • Event Audience (Multi-Platform Certificate/Report) - You can report a simple event audience figure on a Multi-Platform Certificate/Report. The attendance figure will comprise people that have attended (whether paying or free), with them being counted once on each day they attend.

  • Awards Seat Sales (Multi-Platform Certificate/Report) - You can report seat sales for Awards Events on a Multi-Platform Certificate/Report. Further details of attendees are not required.

  • Social Media (Multi-Platform Certificate/Report): The minimum requirement for reporting Social Media is the metric count on the last working day of the Reporting Period. You may continue to report, as an option, the metric counts on the last working day of each month and the average of these for the period.

Issued January 2016

  • Digital Editions - you can now include live social media feeds, news and video feeds. The principle of a Digital Edition being inert once published has been removed, and editorial can be updated after publication, as long as at least 75% of the editorial from the print parent is present at any point in the Digital Edition.

  • Other Bulk Distribution - you can now claim back issues in this section, but will also report the date(s) of these distributions.

  • Issue reporting - publications that have more than 56 issues in a Reporting Period will now report the detail for all their issues rather than a summary statement. 

Guidance Update - August 2015

  • Retail Promotions - Guidance on discounts / cash reimbursements: Clarification of how in-store promotions that result in discounts or cash reimbursements affect the reporting of the publication for ABC purposes.

  • Retail promotions - Guidance on clarification of clear and conspicuous pricing: Clarification of what is clear and conspicuous pricing when a publication is sold in-store as part of a bundle or package with other products.

Issued August 2015

  • Print only subscriptions not available: Some publishers are now not offering separate print subscriptions, meaning there is no print subscription Basic Annual Rate (BAR). If in this scenario Digital Edition subscriptions are claimed then you must instead compare the price paid against an “alternative BAR” which is 75% of the annualised print cover price.

Issued June 2015

  • Gift subscriptions – Digital Edition requirements: You can now claim gift subscriptions for Digital Editions. If purchased for at least 20% of Basic Annual Rate you only need the recipient’s email address instead of a postal address to claim a Digital Edition gift subscription. It is clarified that these Gift Subscriptions will be treated as being in the same geographical location as the purchaser making the gift.

  • Excluded issues - reporting: To provide transparency and consistency between ABC sectors the circulation of any issues excluded from the average circulation will be reported separately on the certificate from the June 2015 Reporting Period. You will need to enter excluded issue circulations on your eReturn submission to enable us to report them.

  • Reporting Periods – single issue certificate option: You can now report a single issue on an optional certificate as long as you then report the next 6 month mandatory period. This was previously allowed under the rules but removed when the rules were simplified. 

Issued November 2014

  • Identification of the Audit Issue: Clarification of treatment when two issues fall an equal distance from the designated date.

  • Reporting Periods: Clarification of Reporting Period options for publications newly registered with ABC.

Issued July 2014

  • You can now report paid licences for digital products (e.g. websites, online magazines) on the ABC Multi-Platform Certificate/Report.

  • To avoid confusion over the nature of certification of Social Media metrics (reported on the ABC Multi-Platform Certificate/Report) the rule wording has been amended to make clear that what is being reported is the Social Media Service’s provided count and testing does not involve examining how the count is compiled or the original source of the metrics included. 

Issued June 2013

  • We have undertaken a major exercise to re-write the Reporting Standards to make them easier to use.

  • After consultation with the industry the new rules have moved to a principle-based approach, allowing for more flexibility to deal with new and changing developments in circulation and verification. We have also harmonised common names and definitions across sectors.

  • Each rule is outlined by a simple definition first, underpinned by its principles and then followed by more detailed requirements. Separate guidance notes provide common examples and applications of achieving the requirements

  • As a result of this exercise some rules have changed, but most are minor changes linked to harmonising and simplifying. Click on the link above to view a document summarising the changes.

  • *Please note*: These changes apply from July 2013, therefore for reporting periods up to and including June 2013 you must use the previous Reporting standards, available in the Reporting Standards Archive.

  • Some of the main changes worth noting are:

    1. Creation of new circulation category, Sponsored Subscription Sales

    2. Minimum subscription term is now 2 issues.

    3. Treatment of subscription offers and bundles clarified

    4. Re-naming of Newstrade to Retail Sales

    5. A change to the two and three year subscription discounts.

    6. One Subscription BAR per country.

Issued May 2013

  • Audit and Certificate Issue: The requirement for a circulation claim to be audited before certification, where there has been a repetition of material errors in claims, has been removed. ABC still has the power to require a claim to be audited prior to a certificate being issued and this may be invoked after consideration of the circumstances of a particular case.

Issued June 2012

  • Audit issue: The criteria for determining the Audit Issue is changing from periods ending January 2013 onwards. The change is a simplification in order to reduce the significant costs of additional programming in new ABC systems. From 2013 the Audit Issue will be the issue distributed nearest to the first day of the last month in the Reporting Period. For example the issue distributed nearest to 1st June for periods ending 30th June 2013.

  • Sources from related parties: Previously where you sourced an individual’s details for your magazine circulation from registrations for an exhibition you run we could only accept the registration as a source once we had audited the exhibition. We will now be able to verify the addressee’s data at audit by direct contact with the addressee (as would happen during the exhibition audit).

  • Digital Editions: You can now optionally report a breakdown of Digital Editions by browser, device or other identifiable and auditable metric.

  • Digital Editions - optional statement reporting those that have opted for both print and digital editions. From reporting periods ending June 2012 you can demonstrate the demand for your digital editions by optionally stating on your certificate the average number of additional digital edition copies per issue that have been requested or paid for by individuals, but which are not included in the ABC circulation figures because a print copy to those individuals has been claimed.

  • Optional Summer 2012 certificate (to allow for product offerings around the Olympics and Paralympics). We will be able to issue separate optional certificates for the summer of 2012 (between July and September 2012). This is to allow you the opportunity to report ABC audited data for publications where, for the purpose of specific Olympic/Paralympic Games related activity, either the content or delivery have been changed in a way that would ordinarily make those copies ineligible for inclusion on an ABC certificate.

Issued March 2012

  • Digital Licences: From reporting periods ending January 2012 onwards you can report on your magazine certificate digital licences that provide a subscriber’s multiple users with access to your magazine’s digital edition. This information will be reported on the magazine ABC certificate, separate from the magazine’s circulation.  

  • Single and Multiple Copy Subscriptions: The rules currently state that for subscription purchases the recipients’ details must be provided by the purchaser. Due to some possible ambiguity in certain scenarios, it has been clarified that, with immediate effect, where the purchaser has approved the recipients’ details (even if they were originally provided by the publisher) then this would be compliant. 

Issued January 2012

  • Social Media: Rules have been added to allow from January 2012 the reporting of a basic measure of social media audience(s) on a product’s Multi-Platform Certificate (note: not on the ABC print certificate). Examples might be Facebook ‘Likes’ or Twitter ‘Followers’

Issued December 2011

  • Digital editions - editorial content. For issues distributed from January 2012 a digital edition will be able to include up to about 25% more editorial content than carried in its print parent edition (previously 5%)

  • Digital editions - information captured. From reporting periods ending January 2012 the threshold above which publishers do not need to obtain the digital edition purchasers’ details is changed from 50% to 20% of Basic Cover Price/Basic Annual Subscription Rate. Note: copies above this price point still need to be proven to payment.

  • Digital editions - rate banding. From audit periods ending December 2011 all paid digital edition copies (including overseas) will be analysed by comparing the price paid with the UK print copy Basic Cover Price (single copy sales) and UK print copy Basic Annual Rate (subscriptions).

  • Digital Editions – free requested copies. The current requirements for telephone, internet and email requests are based on the completion of a form and the capturing of the individual’s answer to the ABC Personal Identifier Question. For requests made from January 2012 publishers may, with the prior approval of ABC, be able to take advantage of alternative solutions for capturing and proving that an individual has requested a digital edition copy of the publication.

Issued November 2011

  • Digital editions - Non-optional Society copies: From periods ending January 2012 onwards there will not need to be a request for an issue in digital edition format (an email notification of the issue's availaibility will still be required).

  • Digital editions - Lower rate corporate subscriptions: From periods ending January 2012 onwards there will be an alternative to the individual opting to receive/view the digital edition. The alternative is the requirement to notify the individual of the issue's availability by email. Hard bounce backs to be excluded from the claim.  

If you require information on any earlier changes please contact us.