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ROI Consumer Magazines - rule changes

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This section details the changes to the ROI Consumer Magazines Reporting Standards.


Issued October 2018

  • New ABC Standards have been agreed for ROI Consumer Magazines. The link above details significant changes in reporting and circulation requirements that will come into effect from Reporting Periods ending December 2018

  • An example certificate illustrating the new design and layout can be viewed here

Issued August 2017

  • Digital Editions: All You Can Read Sales - A new category for Digital Edition copies where the consumer has paid and viewed a copy as part of a multi-publication offer.

  • 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.

  • Controlled Circulation: We may agree to waive the requirement for a mailing list and duplication testing against other individual circulation for copies distributed using an auditable distribution process that is operated by a third party/partner operation.

Issued December 2016

  • Multiple Copy Sales: Optional analysis - These copies are currently analysed by a standard set of consumer types i.e. Airside, Hotel, Trains etc. You may now choose to report additional detail about these copies, providing it is auditable.

  • 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.

Issued August 2016

  • Print and Digital Edition bundles: If you choose to not claim any Digital Edition copies sold as part of a bundle, then you may opt to ignore the Digital Edition copy when allocating the price paid for ABC reporting purposes. Follow the link for more information.

  • Wraps: It has been agreed that a wrap can be added to an issue without any effect on ABC edition reporting (i.e. it will not be considered part of the publication) providing it meets certain conditions. Follow the link for more information.

Issued June 2016

  • Sample Free Distribution - A new category for copies that meet existing rules for Monitored Free Distribution, except for the fact that their distribution does not follow a regular and consistent pattern. Therefore one-off or irregular distributions can be claimed in this Sample Free Distribution category and will be analysed by type by issue.

    • You must obtain ABC’s agreement in advance of the distribution. Due to the increased audit time this type of distribution will incur, additional costs will be payable which will be dependent upon the extent of the job. Please contact us to discuss this.  

Issued May 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.

  • Reporting Other Countries subscription rates: If your publication has multiple Basic Annual Rates for subscriptions in Other Countries you will now report these as ‘various’ rather than a range from the lowest to the highest. This is to reduce the work in converting other currency rates to sterling and because the range quoted was subject to exchange rate fluctuations.

Issued December 2015

  • Actively Purchased - Digital Editions: With effect from Reporting Periods ending 31st December 2015 total Actively Purchased copies will be reported for Digital Edition copies as they are for print. Note:

    • The Actively Purchased circulation analysed for each issue/month in the period will remain as the Actively Purchased print circulation.

    • If you are calculating whether you can exclude an issue because its sale is affected by reasons outside your control, you will use the combined print and Digital Edition Actively Purchased figures for the relevant issues. 

Issued September 2015

  • Gift subscriptions – Digital Edition requirements: You may only hold an email address for the recipient of a Digital Edition Gift subscription, meaning it may be difficult to identify the geographical area (UK/ROI or Other Countries) in which they should be reported. It is clarified that Gift Subscriptions will be treated as being in the same geographical location as the purchaser making the gift.

  • Issue variances - reporting: The variances for all ROI Consumer Magazines will be reported in the same way from Reporting periods ending December 2015, i.e. we will report the actual percentage variances for any issues that vary from the average by more than 10%. You will not need to make any changes to your eReturn claims as these figures are calculated automatically by our system.

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 May 2015

  • Requested Sponsored Subscription Sales - new circulation category that allows copies to be claimed where an individual has requested to receive a subscription but the payment has been made by a third party (i.e. sponsor).

  • 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.

  • Reporting Periods – single issue certificate option: You can now choose to have a certificate for a single issue as long as you then report the next 6 month mandatory period.

  • Multiple Copy Sales – minimum price for short-term deals: We have clarified the existing requirements for short-term multiple copy sales deals by stating the number of issues rather than the period that determines whether a deal must meet a higher minimum price to be claimed.

  • Reasons for excluding an issue: An additional reason, enabling you to apply for an exclusion, has been added. If for reasons outside your control you remove an issue from sale/distribution early you may apply for this to be excluded from the average if the circulation is significantly affected.

  • Digital Editions – society copies: From periods ending June 2015 you will be able to claim Digital Edition copies under the Society non-optional category.

  • 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 November 2014

  • Basic Cover Price - reporting: In cases where a publication has no sales in UK/ROI but you claim retail or single copy sales for Other Countries, you must now report a cover price on your ABC claim. This will either be a single cover price if there is only one or ‘various’ if there are two or more.

  • Editions: It is clarified that it is advertising changes of up to 30% from the Main Edition to an Edition that determines if the Edition can be reported on the same ABC certificate, not just that the number of advertisements must be within this parameter.

Issued 21st July 2014

  • It is clarified that Digital Edition copies sold for less than 20% of the relevant print copy price can be claimed and that the reference to ‘Single Copy Sales’ covers ‘Retail and Single Copy Sales’Identification of the Audit Issue: Clarification of treatment when two issues fall an equal distance from the designated date.

  • 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.

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

Issued July 2014

  • The combined totals of print and Digital Edition circulations will be reported on ABC Certificates. 

  • The Consumer Magazine certificate will be renamed ‘Combined Total Circulation Certificate’.

  • The reporting of monthly/issue by issue data will be mandatory.

  • A statement of the total average number of print and Digital Edition copies sold bundled as a package for at least 120% of the full print price (and thus reported as two copies - one print and one Digital Edition) will be shown on the certificate. 

Issued May 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.

  • Talking Publications: Rules have been added to allow the reporting of Talking Publications on a product’s Multi-Platform Certificate (note: not on the ABC print certificate). 

Issued November 2013

  • Monitored Free Distribution: A publication may now be distributed to distribution points by drivers/distributors that are not third party to the publisher. Please note this is subject to stipulated requirements including specific approval by ABC.

  • Free Retail Voucher Copies: A new circulation category allowing the inclusion of publications obtained free from a retailer by a consumer using a voucher obtained from another publication.

  • Digital Editions: Option to compare Digital Edition prices against the local print copy price for overseas copies when deciding which rate band they will be reported in, whether minimum prices have been met and what level of information is required.

  • Digital Editions: Optional reporting of Publication Active Views (in addition to circulation) for Digital Editions on the Consumer Magazine Certificate.

Issued July 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:

  • Merging of the two Multiple Copy Sales categories into one (but retaining a breakout of short-term arrangements).

  • Minimum subscription term is now 2 issues.

  • Treatment of subscription offers and bundles clarified

  • Re-naming of Newstrade to Retail Sales

Issued May 2013

  • Digital Editions: Various changes to the definition and requirements for Digital Editions, including permitted changes to editorial and advertising compared to the print parent edition. Please follow the link for the details.

December 2012

  • Reporting periods: Newly registered titles can opt to report on a monthly basis until the start of the next mandatory reporting period. 

March 2012

  • Social Media: You can now report a basic measure of social media audience(s) on a product’s ABC Multi-Platform Certificate. Examples of what could be reported are Facebook ‘Likes’ or Twitter ‘Followers’. This can be reported from April 2012.

  • individual has requested a digital edition copy of the publication.

December 2011

  • Issues to be reported: A flowchart has been added to the rules which should be used to determine whether issues should be reported or not.  Click on the above link to view the flowchart.

September 2011

  • Newstrade multipacks: From audit periods ending January 2012 the rules relating to multipacks have been amended where only one publication in the pack is included in an ABC claim. 

  • Monitored Free Distribution:   From audit periods ending January 2012 the breakout of distribution points will include two new categories – Food and drink outlets, and Other travel points. The category for trains will be removed.

  • Monitored Free Distribution: With effect from October 2011 changes have been made to clarify the information and requirements that are expected for Monitored Free Distribution. These include the right for ABC to visit or call distribution points to verify the distribution process, changes to the information on the Master Distribution list of distribution points and the assessment of management controls covering the distribution process as part of the audit. ABC will agree and work with publishers to ensure these are achieved.

 May 2011

  • Submission of circulation claims: Confirmation that there will be a common deadline date for June and December reporting cycles for ROI titles.


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