Business Magazines

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Digital Copies

Digital Copies are copies of a publication published electronically as a unit.

Eligibility and options for reporting

  1. Digital Copies can be reported on a Business Magazine certificate providing they meet the relevant circulation and other requirements detailed in these Standards.

  2. How the digital copies may be claimed will depend on whether print copies are also claimed and, if they are, whether the digital copies meet the requirements to be classified as an edition of the print publication. The scenarios are:

    1. The magazine is only published in digital format – the Digital Copies will be reported on their own certificate.

    2. The magazine is published in both print and digital formats (either for all issues or a mix where some issues are either print or digital only):

      1. You may:

        • Claim the print and digital copies on the same certificate, providing the digital copies meet the requirements to be classified as a Digital Edition of the print publication.

        • Choose to claim the print and digital copies on separate certificates, even though the digital copies meet the requirements to be classified as a Digital Edition of the print publication.

          If the digital copies cannot be classified as a Digital Edition of the print publication you can register the digital magazine as a separate product and report the print and digital copies on separate certificates.

    3. Definition of a Digital Edition

  3. To qualify as a Digital Edition, that edition must be sufficiently similar as to be considered the same product as the print Parent Edition. In particular:

    1. A Digital Edition must be identified as an edition of a publication reported on the ABC Certificate (the Parent Edition). This means it must carry a logotype/masthead incorporating the generic name of the Parent Edition and be consistent with the general appearance of the Parent Edition.

    2. A Digital Edition is published electronically as a unit.

    3. It may be reformatted to suit the different delivery medium. For example: changes in page size or order.

    4. Editorial or advertising may include electronic enhancements or be adapted to take advantage of the medium. For example: pictures replaced with video. 

    5. Compared to the print parent edition, you can change editorial content, providing at any point in time:

      1. A minimum of about 75% of the editorial in the print parent edition is present in the Digital Edition.

      2. Additional editorial, not in the print edition, can be added to the digital edition, up to about 25% of the total editorial by volume in the print edition.

        You must declare editorial changes when submitting your claim to ABC and be able to demonstrate they fall within the permitted parameters.

    6. A Digital Edition may include live social media feeds, news feeds and/or video feeds. These will be ignored in relation to the editorial change requirements.

    7. A digital edition must carry all of the ROP (not classified) advertisements (by number and advertisers) that appear in the parent edition unless agreed otherwise with the advertiser/agency. 

    8. You can sell advertisements for inclusion in the digital edition only. 

    9. If editorial or advertising renders the digital edition illegal for publication the specific advertising/editorial may be removed. In this instance you can ignore the relevant editorial/advertising from your calculations of changes.

    10. Digital editions and their parent edition must be published on or about a common distribution date.

      Note: In cases where individual issues do not have a Parent Edition (being only published in one format/edition only), then requirements 3e, 3g and 3j above do not apply. 


1. Prior notification of Digital Copy claims and plans are required

2. Digital Copies are opted in

3. Digital Copies are published and available to the consumer

4. Digital Copies must meet requirements of the relevant circulation category except where varied by this section

5. Optional metrics/breakdowns can be reported


1. Prior notification of Digital Copy claims and plans are required
  1.  Digital Copy claims must be audited by ABC Staff Auditors.

  2.  You must register your intention to claim in advance of the publication of the issues as part of the audit is carried out during the reporting period. 

  3. You must provide planned distribution dates in advance and notify us of any changes.
2. Digital Copies are opted in
  1. The individual must have either purchased the publication, or requested to receive/view it, with the exception of:

    1. Copies claimed as Membership Copies, Controlled Colleague-Requested and Controlled Non-Requested By Name categories of circulation

    2. Corporate Digital Subscription copies, where the individual is sent an email alert informing them that the issue is available for view/download. 

3. Digital Copies are published and available to the consumer
  1. You must provide ABC with free access to the Digital Copies.
4. Digital Copies must meet requirements of the relevant circulation category except where varied by this section 
  1. Digital Copies can be claimed only for specified circulation categories. 

  2. In relation to all paid categories you must be able to demonstrate the copy has been sold.

  3. If the end recipient receives the Digital Copy free:

    1. You must capture their name and email address. 

    2. You can only claim one Digital Copy per individual.

    3. You cannot claim the copy if you have provided a paid or free print copy to the same individual (where known).  Note:  You must have a common means of de-duplicating all individually distributed copeis where details of the individual are required (for free and paid print copies and other free Digital Copies).  An example of how to achieve this would be by collecting an email address for all print and Digital Copies that require the individual to be known.

  4. For Corporate Subscription Digital Copies:

    1. There must be a contractual arrangement between the purchaser (a third party employer) and the publisher for at least two issues.

    2. The copies are purchased by the third party employer for its employees.

    3. The claimed quantity must be restricted to those employees that have personally opted to receive/view the Digital Copy or been sent an email alert informing them that the issue is available to view/download. Note: Any email that generates a hard bounce back must be excluded. For example: A company takes out a subscription for each of its 100 employees. If only 40 of those employees personally register to receive/view the digital copy then only those 40 copies may be included on the ABC Certificate.

  5. Gift subscriptions, where the recipient receives a subscription as a gift from a paying subscriber (up to a maximum of 12 gift subscriptions per subscriber), can be claimed as Digital Copy Single Copy Subscription Sales as follows:

    1. The recipient’s email address must be provided.

    2.  The recipient is deemed (for ABC purposes) as having paid for the subscription.

    3. The recipient’s geographical location for reporting purposes will be treated as being the same as that of the purchaser making the gift.

  6. In relation to free Digital Copies (where applicable):

    1. You must send an email alert to the individual informing them that the issue is available for view/download. 

    2. You must exclude copies where the email alert generates a Hard Bounceback measured at least 24 hours after the email was sent. A Hard Bounceback is where an NDN (Non-Delivery-Notice) such as an SMTP 550 error or other hard bounceback error message is received. 

    3. You must be able to provide evidence of the emails sent and Hard Bouncebacks received.

    4. Recipients may be contacted as part of the audit process.

  7. Where both a print and Digital Copy are circulated to the same individual:

    1. You can only claim one of these copies per issue towards the average circulation.

    2. You may choose whether to claim either the print or the Digital Copy (providing they are eligible) but you must adopt the same policy for all copies in the Reporting Period.

    3. As an option you may add a statement about the total average number of print (or digital) copies per issue circulated, including any that have been excluded from the average circulation because they represent the individuals second copy.  For example: You circulate, in total, 1,000 printed copies and 500 Digital Copies, Say 200 of those receiving the print copy also receive a Digital Copy.  For these 200 you must decide whether you wish to claim their print copy or their Digital Copy.  Say  you decide to claim their print copy.  This means you can claim 1,000 print copies and 300 Digital Copies = 1,300 [i.e. Digital = 500-200 duplicates].

    4. You may show the extent of circulated copies exluded from the average by making an optional statement of the total average number of print (or digital) copies per issue that have been circulated but not all paid for.

  8. You must retain and supply us on an issue by issue basis (or as otherwise agreed) a list of individual recipients for each issue (the 'Total Distribution List' (TDL)) which inculdes details of all the recipients of individually distributed print copies and all free Digital Copies.  We must be able to identifiy the circulation category/type each copy is claimed in.  As referred to above, this list should exlude:

    1. Duplicate records (i.e. each individual on the list can only be claimed once).

    2. Individuals where Hard Bouncebacks have arisen from email notifications for Digital Copies.

  9. You must supply us the claim for Digital Copies on an issue by issue basis (or as otherwise agreed).

5. Optional metrics/breakdown can be reported

a. You may report a breakdown of Digital Copies by browser, device or other identifiable and auditable metric.


You will report total average Digital Copies for the Audit Issue as follows, which will be broken out on the ABC Certificate: 

1. By geographical type:
  1. United Kingdom

  2. Other Countries

2. By circulation type:
  1. As for print copies, in the same categories (and aggregated in the total figures):

    1. Paid Single Copies (Retail and Single Copy Sales)

    2. Paid Subscriptions (Single Copy Subscription Sales)

    3. Membership Copies

    4. Controlled Free Circulation - requested (individual and colleague), and non-requested by name.

    5. Free Requested Delivered Copies

  1. Digital Copy specific:

    1. Corporate Digital Copy subscriptions 


G5. Digital Copies must meet requirements of the relevant circulation category except where varied by this section 
  1. Typically to provide evidence of the email alerts to individuals informing them that the issue is available for view/download you will provide system generated proof (such as a notification log of the email alerts sent). This system generated proof would normally need to include evidence of what has been distributed, when and to whom, such as:

    1. Date sent
    2. Time sent
    3. Name of publication
    4. Issue identifier
    5. Email address
    6. Size of file delivered
    7. Addressee identifier
  2. Our testing of email alerts may involve email ‘writebacks’ to individuals on an on-going basis during the reporting period which is why we will ask for information throughout.

  3. Retail sales of Digital Copies via a third party retailer (for example Apple Newsstand, Google, Amazon etc) will be reported in this category.


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