ABC Board Revises Definition of Magazine Digital Edition

SCHAUMBURG, IL—March 16, 2010—The board of the Audit Bureau of Circulations modified its definition of a digital magazine in the U.S. and Canada to accommodate new reading devices such as the Apple iPad. The new standards state that a replica digital edition must include a print edition’s full editorial content and advertising, but it no longer needs to be presented in a layout identical to the print version. Replica digital editions will continue to be included in a magazine’s circulation guarantee, or rate base.

The board encouraged publishers planning new e-reader editions or mobile apps to seek ABC evaluation if they would like clarification on qualification and reporting of their digital editions.

ABC confirmed that Wired magazine was the first publication to seek review of its iPad version, which will qualify as a digital replica edition under the bureau’s new guidelines. GQ has offered an ABC approved replica app for the iPhone and iPod Touch since December 2009.

“ABC’s action is good news and a timely step forward for both publishers and advertisers in advance of the iPad launch,” said Brenda White, senior vice president of publishing activation at Starcom and an ABC board member. “It’s encouraging to see magazines expanding their brands and taking advantage of new technology. It will take some time, but I’m confident that e-readers and other mobile devices are going to become important channels for marketers to engage with their audiences.”

Other Key ABC Board Actions

The magazine committee of the ABC board continues to discuss scan-based trading and the implications for auditing and reporting of retail newsstand sales. Last week the board heard input from its advisory committees and a task force dedicated to the topic. The issue centers on the lack of per-issue data available from many scan-based systems and how to account for “shrink”—the difference between the number of magazines delivered to a retail outlet minus unsold copies, versus the amount identified as sold in its scan system. ABC is continuing to work toward an industry resolution it hopes to announce later this year.

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