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Find out about our media industry trusted currency: ABC Data
Learn about our structure and history: About ABC
Auditors: Guidance for conducting ABC audits
About Our Data
What is ABC data?
ABC data includes print, digital and event data. It can be quantitative (e.g. the number of print copies circulated or unique web browsers), and also qualitative (e.g. specific distribution points for free printed copies, or the names of other media titles packaged in a multipack). The data is submitted to us by our media owner members via our ‘returns’ system, which ensures it’s prepared to ABC industry-agreed standards. We then audit the data to these standards and make it publically available on our website.
What’s ABC data for?
The purpose of our data is to provide media buyers with verified, comparable facts and figures they can trust when planning and trading advertising. This information enables them to determine market demand for, and the potential reach of, different media products. Ultimately, our data helps buyers make informed judgements about the value of the media space they’re buying.
How is ABC data different from other types of publisher data like PAMCo?
ABC data provides granular trading information that can’t be found elsewhere. For example, metrics such as ‘Actively purchased’ print copies, as well as detailed information about how and when free copies were distributed. We compile this data on a ‘census’ basis (i.e. a full, official count) using supporting, factual evidence.
PAMCo’s ‘readership’ data provides estimates of audiences, for use in reach and frequency planning. This also includes demographic profiling of who readers are.
Both ‘census’ and ‘readership’ data are essential research tools for buyers, and play different roles at the planning and buying stages. They also enable buyers to cross-reference and sense check the results from each data set to paint a more comprehensive picture of the market.
How do we check the data is accurate?
Our media owner members must prepare their data to ABC standards before submitting it for audit. Our audit teams then verify the claim using a broad range of tests, which are chosen based on the specific media product and how it’s been distributed. Two examples are: rigorous checks of factual evidence, and arranging ‘reality tests’ like phone interviews and visits to specific sites.
What does the audit process look like?
Our audit process consist of six main steps:
- Data submission – Using our online returns system, the media owner submits their data and their ‘claim’ for a specific reporting period.
- Validation – Our returns system automatically analyses the data. Any inaccuracies are investigated and corrected. We then issue the media owner’s ABC certificate.
- Pre-audit review – We assess the media owner’s data and the processes they used to produce it. We’ll then determine which tests we need to use to verify the claim.
- Audit – We apply the selected tests to validate the data.
- Conclusion – We provide a summary of the testing results, record any discrepancies and assess if we need to make an adjustment to the claim or certificate.
- Wrap up – Finally we contact the media owner with a summary of any audit issues and recommendations where necessary.
What’s the best way to access ABC data on your website?
There are two main ways you can view data on our website:
- Certificates - We issue an ABC certificate for each media product we verify (print edition, digital publication, event, etc.). Current certificates for each media owner can be viewed by all visitors to the website, using the search function on our homepage. Historical data for each product is available to ABC members and subscribers.
- Our Data Hub contains the latest ABC data, with headline figures & certificates going back to 2000, including detailed data back to 2017 where available. It’s an easy to use tool with many features allowing you to analyse and export data quickly and efficiently from a trusted source. Our Data Hub is available to members and subscribers.
What data reports do you release?
- Consumer Magazines
- Business Media
- National Newspapers
When is the next data release?
We release data on an ongoing basis with some publishers releasing them each month and others every 6 or 12 months. For some sectors we release a 6 monthly summary report. View our report schedule for release dates.
How can I access a title’s old certificate/s and/or the Interactive Reports?
What media products can be ABC-audited?
We audit a range of media products. Here are the definitions for each type:
- Print editions
Print products are straightforward to understand (newspapers, magazines, etc.), but it’s useful to understand the different distribution methods we measure. Our main reporting categories are:
- Paid Single Copies
(Primarily retail copies) Copies that are sold to a retailer for resale as single copies to a consumer.
- Paid Subscriptions
Copies sold and distributed to an individual or a group for a contracted period.
- Paid Multiple Copies
Copies purchased by a third party and delivered to a location, so they're available for pick up or receipt by consumers.
- Free copies
Copies that are distributed, or made available, to consumers for free.
- Membership copies
A single copy of an official Society publication that’s distributed to a member of that society.
- Paid Single Copies
- Digital editions / digital publications
A digital edition is a digital version of a print edition reported on the same certificate. This may be reported by copies circulated and/or Publication Active Views (PAVs - effectively intentional openings by the consumer). A digital publication is reported on its own certificate, and it may or may not have a print equivalent. Again, it can be reported by copies circulated and/or Publication Active Views (PAVs).
- Web/ app traffic
Traffic is the recorded activity for a website or app. It is mandatory for the media owner to report the number of daily unique browsers for each day of the reporting period (repeat visits by the same browser are only counted once). Optional metrics such as page impressions and visits are often included. As part of the audit, ‘invalid’ traffic such as robotic non-human activity is excluded.
- Email distribution
These must be email mailings that are related to a single email product and have been distributed for a defined reporting period. The media owner must report the number of de-duplicated emails successfully sent to individual email addresses, total number of mailings, a product name, a description and its content.
- Event attendance
Attendees at a specific event. These are broken down into visitor and exhibitor attendees.
- Social media
Included on ABC Brand Report certificates only. Defined as the metric count for one or more social media platforms, on the last day of the month covered by the certificate. (NB. We don’t audit the underlying data for social media reporting. As agreed by the industry, media owners have the option to include this information on their brand report to help communicate their overall brand reach.)
What is ABC’s role in the industry?
ABC releases data for the UK media industry to use when trading print, digital and event advertising. We’re also a leading industry-owned auditor for media products and services, with specialist skills in digital ad trading. Our logo stands for quality and trust in media, empowering our £22bn industry to trade with confidence.
Who owns ABC?
We’re a not-for-profit organisation owned by the industry.
How is ABC run?
- Our funding stakeholders are the Internet Advertising Bureau UK (IAB UK), Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA), Incorporated Society of British Advertisers (ISBA), News Media Association (NMA) and the Professional Publishers Association (PPA).
- Our Board members are nominated by the above organisations. The Board meets throughout the year to oversee the effective running of ABC, and includes key representatives from agencies, advertisers, media owners and trade bodies.
- Our Reporting Standards Groups (RSGs) are responsible for developing ABC Reporting Standards, which are the rules to which our data is prepared and reported. The groups represent the ‘buy and sell’ sides of the industry, and meet regularly to review and agree the standards for their sector.
- Our Team operates from our headquarters in Berkhamsted. This includes our expert team of auditors, who deliver the auditing work across all areas of our business - from print, digital editions and websites to ad fraud, brand safety and viewability.
What‘s a JIC?
JIC stands for Joint Industry Currency. JICs are owned by the industry - advertisers, agencies and media owners - to provide transparent and objective audience measurement for each medium. The data is produced and sold at cost, providing both industry accountability and a robust trading currency for each medium.
ABC was the very first JIC in the UK. There are 9 JICs representing different types of media such as magazines, radio, television and online. The UK Joint Industry Currencies are ABC, BARB, JICMAIL, JICPOPS, JICREG, JICWEBS, PAMCO, RAJAR and ROUTE.
Why are JICs important?
The advertiser and agency trade bodies (ISBA and the IPA) strongly support the JIC principles as the ‘gold standard’ approach to providing objective and comparable data. You can read more in their Matter of Fact report.