In another sign that the economic recession is impacting publishing events, the Audit Bureau of Circculation’s board of directors has decided to postpone its annual conference ths year, which was scheduled to take place in Toronto in November. The board cited a “challenging advertising market and anticipated lower attendance due to economic and industry conditions.”

“We’re disappointed to postpone this year’s conference, but it’s the right thing to do in the difficult economic environment all businesses are faced with,” ABC president and managing director Mike Lavery said in a statement. “Many of our member organizations are under widespread travel and budget limitations, and are trimming discretionary expenses such as attending industry conferences. The board made its decision now, early in the year, so ABC members can plan and budget accordingly.”

ABC said it still plans to host its 2010 conference, also in Toronto. Lavery said ABC would hold a brief business meeting in New York on November 11 to elect board directors, report on business activities and present the treasurer’s financial update, as required under its bylaws. He also indicated ABC would host virtual Web-based training sessions this fall to update attendees on the latest ABC rules and audit guidelines.

Last month, the Magazine Publishers of America canceled its American Magazine Conference, the consumer magazine association’s annual, glitzy gathering of high-powered magazine editors and executives. A week later, b-to-b publishing trade association American Business Media downsized its two-day, e-media-focused Digital Velocity event to a half-day series of live Webinars.

Definition of Digital Magazines

The board also has broadened its definition of a digital magazine edition to include content published via any digital means, not just an exact electronic copy. Beginning with June 2009 ABC statements, magazines may report paid digital editions in two categories: “replica,” where the advertising and editorial content exactly match the printed publication, and “non-replica,” where the basic identity and content are similar to the printed edition, but the articles and advertising may differ. Free, unrestricted public access to a Web site does not qualify as a paid digital edition.

The board agreed to establish a new magazine task force to evaluate ABC’s current reporting process. The group of advertisers and publishers will work with ABC staff to "find ways to simplify the process, eliminate extraneous information, and present additional audience and multimedia data of value to advertisers."

The board’s Canadian representation will also be broadened and Canadian autonomy and control over rules and reporting will be increased “to ensure that its services and policies continue to meet members’ changing needs.” The bureau’s Canadian committee will be expanded by six members, adding three publishing executives and three media buyers, and will become the ABC Canada board.

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