The Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC) Singapore has announced a new set of rules and guidelines for auditing and reporting of circulation numbers for newspapers and magazines to include digital editions.

This follows a year-long review by ABC in 2011. It has fine-tuned the current rules for print editions and takes into account the growth of the personal computer, smartphones and tablets which offer digital platforms for news, information and entertainment.

Publishers now have a revamped ABC audit report that takes into account the digital editions. This gives media buyers a comprehensive picture of a publication’s total media footprint backed by reliable data.

Here is a summary:

The new rules allow publishers to report multiple copy sales to a single party under the heading Multiple Copy Sales. This will include copies sold in bulk for exhibitions, concerts or similar events. Publishers have to produce a sales contract, invoice, payment proof and distribution evidence for the audit. Copies of a publication sold to hotels for distribution to guest rooms can also be included in net sales as well as copies given to present and past employees.

For digital editions, the electronic copy must follow the identity of the print version and have the same name/logo. Access must be restricted to subscribers or registered users.

ABC split digital editions into Replica and Non-Replica. The former follows the same content as the print edition while the latter may have different content. However, when it comes to reporting, only the Replica edition can be included as part of the average circulation. Non-Replica editions have to be reported separately.

This is a timely move by ABC Singapore. More and more publications are offering both print and digital. No doubt with the rapid changes in the publishing and advertising industry, this circulation organisation will have to revise it guidelines again in a year or two.