Consumer Magazines

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Reporting Standards for products registered in the Consumer Magazines sector.

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Latest updates

Issued April 2022
  • Print editions with changed advertising: If less than 70% of the advertisements in the Main Edition appear in an edition, you may include that edition on the same certificate providing you report an edition breakout by primary circulation category (i.e. by single copies, subscriptions, multiple copies and free).

  • Paid Multiple Copy Business Sales (Digital only): You may now claim back issues up to 12 months old, reported against the issue current at the time it is viewed.

Issued August 2021
  • Digital Copies: We previously communicated (November 2020) a rule change that allowed you to report an issue (or issues) comprised solely of digital copies on a Consumer Magazine certificate (i.e. an issue does not need a ‘print parent’). We have updated the Digital Editions section to provide greater clarity on how this affects reporting, along with replacing references to ‘Digital Editions’ throughout the standards with ‘Digital Copies’ where appropriate.

Issued April 2021
  • Website/App Activity: The Standards have been overhauled to provide a more flexible and cost-effective method of reporting Web and App activity.

  • Email Newsletters: The Email Standards have also undergone a review, placing a greater focus on the email platform used to report data and introducing the ability to report multiple email newsletters on the same certificate.

  • Digital Events: These new Standards allow you the opportunity to report attendance and other related data for online events, such as webinars, seminars and other virtual events.

Issued 18 November 2020
  • Digital only issues and Digital only magazines [effective from periods ending January 2021]: From 2021 you may report an issue (or issues) comprised of solely digital copies on a Consumer Magazine certificate (i.e. an issue does not need a ‘print parent’).

  • Print and Digital Edition bundles [effective from periods ending January 2021]: From 2021 you may no longer claim, on the same certificate, both copies sold as part of a print and digital bundle (currently permitted if exceeds 20% of print copy price). However, the copies may be claimed on separate certificates.

  • Free Requested Delivered Copies [effective from periods ending January 2021]: From 2021 you will be able to claim copies in a new category of circulation, called Free Requested Delivered Copies. Already available in other ABC sectors, this category allows you to claim free copies requested by consumers, without the additional information required currently under Controlled Circulation. *In addition, the requirement for postal address to be captured for free digital copies is removed.

Issued November 2020
  • Excluded issues: A clarification has been added to help avoid the situation where a publisher might feel forced to print the normal quantity of copies, suspecting that a significant portion might never be distributed, purely in order for the issue to qualify to be excluded from the average circulation figure. 

Issued October 2020
  • Changes to temporary variations - COVID 19: COVID-19 certificates remain available for periods ending December 2020. Only issues distributed between post-lockdown in March 2020 up to end of September 2020 may be included on a COVID-19 certificate. The remainder of the temporary variations remain in place, to be reviewed again towards the end of the year.

  • Paid Multiple Copies and Monitored Free Distribution [Effective from January 2021]: From January 2021 the analyses for these two circulation types will be aligned, to remove small historical differences. Please follow the link above to view a table showing the existing categories and the revised categories that will apply to both circulation types from next year. 

Issued June 2020
  • You may now claim digital edition copies where a third-party subscriber has purchased multiple subscriptions for receipt by individuals. Claimed copies are restricted to those individuals that have personally opted to receive/view the Digital Edition.

  • The Corporate Subscriptions category (copies purchased by an employer for their employees) has been withdrawn, as these copies may now be claimed as Multiple Copy Subscription Sales.
Issued March/April 2020
  • Temporary standards changes issued to help address the challenges of coronavirus. 

Issued March 2020
  • ROI publications that previously reported under separate ROI Consumer Magazine standards will now report under these standards. 

Issued December 2019
  • Issues distributed at the end of a Reporting Period: If this may cause practical difficulties in compiling the circulation claim, you may contact us for advice on reporting the issue.

  • Paid Multiple Copies (short-term): From periods ending January 2020 these may be claimed if sold at below 20% of cover price, subject to a number of conditions.

Issued September 2019
  • Brand and Group Reports: Publishers can now report Google Analytics 'Users' on ABC Brand or Group Reports to demonstrate their online brand reach. This provides a cost-effective alternative to our more detailed Web Traffic certificate.
Issued June 2019
  • Monitored Free Distribution (overseas copies): An exception to the ‘no back issue’ rule, which allows copies to be claimed that fall within the relevant on-sale period for the current issue in the particular territory.

  • Monitored Free Distribution: Clarification that to be considered regular, a distribution must be on an every issue basis.

  • Digital Publications Standards: Where digital copies are sold bundled with another ABC claimed product, and they are claimed as circulation on an ABC Digital Publication certificate (which is separate to the print certificate), they must be reported in the ‘bundle’ category.

  • ABC Brand Reports and Group Reports:

    • A distinction is made between ABC reports that bring together ABC audited products for a single brand (Brand Report) or for a number of different brands (Group Report).

    • Data from different ABC certificates can be aggregated under certain circumstances (key being it’s the same metric for the same reporting period).

Issued January 2019
  • Consolidated auditing: Option for six monthly certificates to be audited on an annual cycle 
Issued September 2018
  • Monitored/Sample Free Distribution: Free copies packaged with other magazines or products can now be included in these categories. Examples include a free magazine within a retail multipack, a magazine inserted within another publication and a free magazine within a goodybag

  • Digital Editions: Free Digital Edition copies can now be included under Controlled Free Circulation and Membership Copies where distribution is demonstrated by the active opening of the copy. This is an alternative to the existing method of emailed notifications alerting individuals to the availability of the Digital Edition issue.

  • Paid Single Copies: For simplicity you may compare all single/retail copies against the UK Basic Cover Price for identifying the appropriate rate band. However you may opt to report other countries copies against the relevant local cover price.

Issued April 2018
  • All You Can Read Sales: Due to potential delays in establishing final copy counts of Digital Edition copies in the All You Can Read category this change means you can submit your claim using estimates of final sales/views

  • Reporting frequency: Publishers may choose to report monthly figures on an ongoing basis

Issued November 2017
  • New ABC Standards have been agreed for Consumer Magazines. The link above details significant changes in reporting and circulation requirements that will come into effect from Reporting Periods ending December 2017

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

Issued July 2017
  • 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.

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

Reporting Standards Group (RSG)

The Reporting Standards Group (RSG) members below have been approved by the ABC Board and represent the wider membership in the development of the Reporting Standards. As an ABC member, if you have any issue or request about these standards, you can contact us or any of the RSG members below. 

  • Adam Crow (Chair), Head of Press, Mediacom

  • Amanda Wigginton, Consultant, PPA

  • Anthony Gibson-Watt, Investment Director, Zenith Media, part of the Publicis Group

  • Ashleigh Peters, Commercial Trading Manager, Dentsu

  • Ben Oakden, Head of Trade Marketing, Future

  • Chris Klokkaris, Research Director, Bauer Media

  • Greg Harris - Senior Circulation Analyst - Audited Circulation - The Economist

  • James Hill, Circulation & Subscription Director, Hearst

  • Nick Brown, Display Trading Director, Starcom Mediavast

  • Paul Kombou, Trading Director, Immediate Media Co

  • Richard Kingerlee, Circulation Director, Conde Nast Publications Ltd

  • Sarah Johnson, Publishing Business Director, Havas

  • Vanessa Doyle, Head of Publishing, IPG Mediabrands 

Submission deadlines

PeriodSubmission deadline
June End Period  Last Monday of July [June 2022 = 25/7/2022]
December End Period Last Monday of January [Dec 2022 = 30/01/2023]

Consumer Magazines report

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Archived standards

If you require past versions of Reporting Standards you can find them here.

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