The ABC board of directors has taken a significant step toward formally approving a number of changes to its digital reporting rules, including the implementation of a new Publisher’s Statement prototype that will include key activity metrics for digital editions.

These changes—stemming from recommendations made by a U.S. and Canadian magazine publisher/advertiser task force—were endorsed by the board at its meeting last week in Bonita Springs, Florida and will be up for formal approval in July and November of this year.

The new prototype requires publishers to report the number of unique browsers or devices accessing their digital magazines, as well as total visits and average visit duration. The reports will also call for greater detail on print and digital magazine subscriptions and single-copy sales.

As recommended by the task force, the board agreed that only one platform in a bundled subscription package and only replica digital editions may count toward total average circulation. Additional brand extensions should be reported through ABC’s Consolidated Media Report.

If digital editions are more than 2 percent of total circulation and average at least 3,000 copies, publishers must report net digital circulation by platform type (web, app or multiplatform). Gross numbers of bundled digital magazines by issue and platform are also required.

The new format, including any changes voted on in the July and November meetings, will likely take effect by July 1, 2013.

“Detailing this kind of information via ABC is a huge and necessary step forward for the industry,” said Robin Steinberg, ABC board member and EVP, director of publishing investment and activation at MediaVest, in a statement. “We are optimistic about the diverse, new digital platforms continuously launching. However, it’s vital we have access to meaningful metrics on how readers are engaging with publications and their extensions.”

Mandates for Large Publishers

In addition to these changes to the statement, the board also plans to make issue-by-issue magazine reporting via ABC’s Rapid Report tool mandatory for large magazines by January 1, 2013, while bringing their number of Publisher’s Statements down to one per year by eliminating the June statement. Details such as what defines a large magazine are yet to be determined.

The board also agreed to update FAS-FAX reports to show a total print and digital figure, beginning in June of this year.

Prior to its July meeting, the board will consider establishing an allowance of up to 2 percent for credit cancellations.

Changes for Business Publishers

For business publications, the board endorsed a new Consolidated Media Report format to replace the Multimedia Publisher’s Statement, an optional alternative to the traditional Publisher’s Statement. The new format allows publishers to create custom front pages and include brand extension data for websites, e-newsletters, pass-along receivership, tradeshows, social media and white papers.

In a statement, ABC president and managing director Mike Lavery called the CMR “a metaphor for [ABC’s] vision: to provide comprehensive, verified cross-platform metrics that help to facilitate the buying and selling of media.”


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