Below we have summarized new rule amendments and initiatives passed by the Board of Directors at their December 2012 meeting.
All changes are effective immediately, with the December 2012 reporting period.
The Rule Amendments/New Rules may be accessed through the “Rules” link on our home page, or by clicking here. If you prefer, please contact your BPA Member Relations Manager, or any of our audit staff, with any questions.
Board Actions Applying to Business Publications, Consumer Magazines and Newspapers
Digital Editions Served Through Apps: The first digital copies were delivered as a pdf to the subscriber’s computer. That quickly evolved into more robust, user friendly flip book digital editions accessed through the web. In today’s media landscape, more media owners are using apps to deliver their digital copies. Apps can be used to serve copies on computers, tablets, and mobile devices.
Over its last two meetings, the Board worked through the evolution of reporting apps and digital copies delivered through apps. In December 2011, the Board amended its rules to allow the reporting of downloaded apps on the Brand Report. At that time there was not enough information to report the copies delivered through apps as qualified circulation.
In May 2012, due to advancements in technology and reporting, the Board approved the reporting of digital copies served through apps as qualified circulation. At the time it was determined that through authentication (access code tied to subscriber registration/information) media owners were able to identify and qualify end-users, and therefore, report them as qualified circulation.
As we move from theory into practice, we identified several situations that need further clarification and guidance, especially in regard to combined print and digital offers and controlled (free) app based subscriptions.
The Board amended rules for digital copies served through apps and mobile devices as follows:
* Digital subscriptions purchased through tablets/mobile (“Digital First”): Digital circulation shall be reported from copy one and for the full term of subscription. However, the digital subscription must be authenticated through the device/app to report digital copies when sold as:
1. Paid combination sales/bundled subscriptions (print and digital)
2. Paid sponsored digital tablet/mobile subscriptions
3. Paid circulation, with digital as a promotional incentive
* Non-Paid circulation: recipient must authenticate the digital subscription through the device and access the magazine/publication once each six month reporting period.
Continuous/Non-Continuous Service: In 2007, the BPA Board changed the continuous service rule from six months to three months. At that time, media owners expressed that they needed to change circulation much more frequently than in the past, media owners were no longer willing to wait six months to make circulation changes, and media buyers were not buying on long term schedules.
Recognizing that managing continuous service compliance adds costs for media owners without adding much value to the media buyers, the Board reviewed the rules again.
The BPA advisory committees, and, subsequently, the BPA Board, decided the continuous/non-continuous circulation rule is outdated now that there are multiple media channels, multiple messaging opportunities, and unlimited frequencies within the media brand to reinforce advertising messages. As a result, the continuous service requirement has been eliminated.
Shared Media Channels: When BPA began reporting website traffic there were many discussions regarding media owner’s web strategies. Some media owners adopted vertical website strategies and some media owners adopted horizontal “portal” website strategies. Vertical website strategies create one website for each print magazine, and portal strategies create one large website hosting multiple brands. BPA termed the latter “Shared Media Channels.”
In May 2010, the BPA Board approved the reporting of shared media channels on multiple BPA reports, as long as there was clear disclosure. These disclosures were usually placed in the notes section at the end of the report. A recent competitive challenge caused BPA to revisit how it reports shared media channels.
The Board reaffirmed reporting shared media channels, but determined it requires better disclosure. The Board voted to require the disclosure comment, “shared media channel (XYZ website) - serving both ______ and ____,” everywhere shared data (of any type, not just websites) is reported, including page one of the report.
Brand Subscription Sale Offers: As media owners begin to offer bundled brand subscriptions, which typically include: magazine (print/digital), premium web content, reference materials, email newsletters, etc., it has become increasingly difficult to determine the value of the magazine when reporting “paid” claims. Since BPA rules require media owners report average annual subscription order price for magazines, it is a challenge to determine what value to report when combination brand offers are used.
The Board decided the full amount collected for the offer shall be reported as the value of the subscription. Members reporting average annual order price shall disclose the number of subscriptions sold with multiple-channel brand offers, when applicable.
Pre-Populated Data: In May 2012, BPA changed its rules to allow members to pre-populate web qualification forms with prior-year magazine data provided the subscriber is given the option to confirm or change the presented data. Since media owners are communicating with subscribers and collecting demographic data through multiple media channels, members asked BPA to expand the rule. Media owners wish to utilize subscriber information from any channel to pre-populate magazine subscription solicitations.
In addition, members have requested the rules be amended to allow the use of third-party sources, such as business information providers, association lists rosters, and directories to pre-populate information to make subscribing as efficient as possible.
Lastly, since BPA's previous tests on pre-populated data have indicated that subscribers are diligent in reviewing the data presented to them on pre-populated forms and make changes when necessary, the committees suggested the data used for prepopulating does not need an age restriction.
The Board approved all the recommended changes.
Electronic Edition: Site Licenses: The Board was asked to revisit reporting electronic edition site licenses as qualified digital copies. The topic was reviewed in 2002 and 2007, but due to limitations on end-user data, electronic site license copies remained a non-qualified source.
The Board noted that site licenses are usually access points to premium digital content, which may include access to a digital magazine, but they are not necessarily digital magazine subscriptions. The Board ruled that site licenses can be reported as a separate media channel (“seats”) on the BPA Brand Report, but not as qualified digital copies on the publication circulation statements.
Qualification Forms on Statements: The current BPA rule requires a “reproduction of the questionnaire shall be included in the supplementary audit report.” However, as media owner members migrate to Brand Reporting and expand statement sizes to report more data, report space is becoming even more valuable. Since qualification forms are easily accessible on the media owner’s website, the Board changed the rule to no longer require qualification forms on BPA statements/reports.
Digital Delivery: Non Requestors: In December 2011, the BPA Board changed the rules to allow media owners to serve digital copies to all sources: requested and non-requested recipients.
At the time, it was decided that media owners must first communicate with the subscriber, introduce the digital product and provide an opportunity for opt-out before serving the first digital issue. However, in practice, media owners find the introduction email is the perfect opportunity to include the first digital issue, and sending an introduction email and a follow-up email with the first issue is redundant.
The Board agreed and amended the rule to allow media owners to count the digital subscription, from copy one, as long as the subscriber is given the ability to opt-out.
Controlled Circulation Offers: Disclosing Delivery Format: Prior to December 2011, qualified digital circulation could only be sent to individuals who requested to receive the magazine digitally. Media owners were required to ask the subscriber if they wished to receive the magazine in print, digital, or in both formats.
In December 2011, BPA changed the rules allowing all sources to qualify for digital circulation. With this change BPA eliminated the requirement to ask the subscriber which format they preferred. Shortly thereafter, BPA began seeing controlled subscription offers that did not designate a format; media owners were offering the subscription and then deciding which format (print or digital) to serve the subscriber based on their information.
We reviewed this practice with our advisory committees and board, and all reaffirmed the practice. No rule change is required. We are simply advising our members of the opportunity to employ this practice for their controlled circulation.
Board Actions Applying to Canadian Newspapers Only
Newspaper TRAC Analyses to Add FDSA Accreditation Information;Corporate TRAC Reports Available: CCAB issues TRAC (Trend Report About Circulation) analyses for daily and community newspaper members. The Daily Newspaper TRAC, covering the 12 months ending December, is issued every March in tandem with the release of NADbank’s readership data. The Community Newspaper TRACs, covering the six months ending March and September, are released November and June, respectively.
Effective with the next release of TRAC, all daily and community TRAC analyses will include FDSA accredited information.
Additionally, all newspaper members will have the option of releasing company specific TRAC reports for their company only.
Reporting Newspaper Subscriptions Served Across Multiple Platforms: Newspapers are increasingly serving audiences across multiple media platforms. Publishers may choose to report individuals receiving multiple media channels. If a publisher chooses this option, they must also report net unique individuals.
Non-Paid Daily Newspaper Reporting Format: orking with our non-paid daily newspaper publisher members and media buyers, CCAB has developed an improved reporting format for non-paid daily newspapers. Changes include:
• Presenting two channels of circulation: Public Place Distribution, including street promotion copies and Box Distribution. Public Place Distribution, including street promotion copies would include all copies distributed within transit locations and copies handed out by hawkers, as well as copies delivered to residential and non-residential locations, schools, and retail locations. Box Distribution would include all copies distributed through boxes, notably those distributed in the immediate vicinity of transit entrance and exit locations.
• Revising the name of the “Friday” edition to “Friday/Weekend Edition,” since a significant amount of pick-up occurs throughout the weekend.
• Reporting geography by CMA and non-CMA is optional since these newspapers serve primarily commuter markets.