What's the Difference between Qualified and Verified U.S. Newspaper Circulation?

Learn more about these two types of analyzed nonpaid distribution.


Newspapers report nonpaid circulation to AAM to show how they reach consumers, from free requested home-delivered publications to copies available for pick-up at a train station. There are two types of analyzed nonpaid circulation on AAM reports for U.S. newspapers—qualified and verified—and it’s important to understand the differences between the two.

To be considered qualified nonpaid circulation, something must be known about the end user. Examples include:

  • A free newspaper delivered to a specific address where the consumer may opt out of receiving the publication at any time.
  • Newspapers provided to classrooms where the number of students and frequency of delivery are known.
  • Newspapers provided to university students in a limited-access environment on campus restricted to use by students.
  • Newspapers served to employees of the newspaper or independent contractors responsible for the delivery of the newspapers to subscribers.
  • Complimentary newspapers ordered by a business for use by its patrons.

For publications where the end user is entirely unknown, those newspapers may be considered verified nonpaid circulation. Examples include:

  • Free print newspapers delivered to residential areas where the goal is to saturate a market area, not target individual addresses.
  • Newspapers available in apartment buildings accessible only to residents.
  • Newspapers distributed at public events.
  • Newspapers distributed via racks at locations such as bus stops and grocery stores.

Details on each category of circulation are available on quarterly data reports and audit reports. There is much more information about these types of distribution as well as their reporting requirements in AAM’s Buy/Sell Knowledge Base

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Breakdown of U.S. Newspaper Print Distribution
Breakdown of U.S. Newspaper Print Distribution

Download this handy overview of circulation types featured on AAM’s quarterly data reports.