Follow this guide to ensure your digital subscriptions are eligible as AAM circulation units.
Digital subscriptions, available on a variety of platforms, are eligible as AAM circulation units if they are restricted-access (require download or log-in) and comply with AAM Rule C 2.4 Separate Editions.
For AAM reporting purposes only, the two types of digital subscriptions are:
- Replica - consistent with the print edition in layout, editorial and advertising content. It may exclude FSI advertising (free-standing inserts) and include updated news content or additional advertising.
- Nonreplica - consistent in character and editorially homogeneous with the print edition, but advertising may differ.
Digital subscriptions purchased for at least one cent per year, net of considerations, are eligible as digital paid subscriptions. See AAM Rule C 1.1 Paid Circulation Defined.
Offers without a definitive term are eligible as paid subscriptions for 30 days (e.g. a mobile app costing a one-time fee of 99 cents for indefinite access). Subsequently, the service is only eligible as qualified subscriptions based on consumer access.
Digital subscriptions of the same newspaper sold in a bundle together, or with print, are eligible as paid digital subscriptions if the following requirements are met:
- Subscriptions claimed as paid are presented as “included” in the package price. Copies presented or implied as free to the consumer are only eligible as qualified subscriptions.
- The consumer is either presented with incremental pricing for each subscription, or proof of access is available. See AAM Rule C 5.10 Subscriptions Involving Digital Editions.
- Incremental Pricing
Incremental pricing means each paid subscription is independently chosen by the consumer and presented at a cost of at least 5 percent above the highest priced subscription (print being default if included in package). For the audit, the media used to present subscribers with incremental pricing must be retained for review by AAM (direct mail piece, inbound or outbound telemarketing script, internet order, etc.)
Example: Sign up today for a three month Sunday-only print and seven-day digital access subscription at the low price of $10.50 OR three-month Sunday-only print subscription at the low price of $10.00.
(Since the print and digital subscription was 5 percent greater than the print-only subscription option, print can be counted every Sunday of the subscription term as paid delivery and digital could be counted every day of the subscription term as paid digital subscriptions if the subscriber chose the print/digital option.)
- Nonincremental Pricing (Bundle/Hybrid Subscriptions)
If incremental pricing is not executed, digital editions must be accessed by the subscriber. Only issues actually accessed by subscribers are eligible as paid circulation. For the audit, documents supporting the quantity of unique accesses per day must be retained and available for review by AAM. Digital circulation may be excluded from AAM reporting if publishers are unable to provide documents to support subscriber access.
Example: Sign up today for a three-month Sunday-only print and seven-day digital access subscription at the low price of $5.99.
(Since the digital portion of this offer was not incrementally priced, print can be counted every Sunday of the subscription term as paid home delivery. However, digital can only be counted on the actual day of access during the subscription term as paid digital subscriptions.)
- Incremental Pricing
Digital subscriptions presented to consumers as free, no additional cost, no extra charge, complimentary or other synonymous language, are eligible as qualified subscriptions if the following requirements are met:
- The recipient registers and activates an account, or downloads an application, to activate the subscription.
- The recipient accesses the digital edition. Only issues actually accessed by subscribers are eligible as qualified circulation. For the audit, AAM must confirm the subscription activation date and subsequent subscriber access. Digital circulation may be excluded from AAM reporting if publishers are unable to provide documents to support subscriber access.
- See AAM rules C 3.3 Other Qualified Distribution and C 5.10 Subscriptions Involving Digital Editions.
Access to limited articles of a restricted-access website (metered-model) is not acceptable as qualified circulation since the entire newspaper is not available for viewing. Once the consumer exceeds the limit and pays for access, the circulation is eligible as paid as outlined above in stand-alone and bundled sales.
Payment for digital subscriptions may be obtained from a third party. However, AAM’s qualification review and audit processes won’t govern or consider financial transactions. The copies are still classified as qualified subscriptions for AAM reporting purposes.