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Publishers Embrace New Digital Reporting Rules

10 May 2012

Weekly magazines and Metropolitan and regional newspapers are among the first to report sales of their digital media offerings, the Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC) announced today.

These publications have taken the lead in embracing historic changes to the ABC's reporting rules, which introduce new metrics for the reporting of sales of digital versions of newspapers and magazines and stand-alone digital publications.

The publications that have reported under the new rules for the period-ended March 2012, include the Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, Saturday Age, Sunday Age, Sunday Life and Good Weekend, The Week and The Examiner.

Endorsed in March this year, the new rules also include a world-first, de-duplicated Average Total Paid Masthead Sales metric which includes paid websites, providing insight into print only sales, digital only sales and packaged print and digital subscription sales.

With the rules coming into effect for the January to March 2012 audit period, today marks the first ABC data release incorporating the new reporting categories.

ABC chairman Dr Stephen Hollings said the data release, which coincides with the 80th anniversary of the ABC, marked the beginning of a new era for media reporting in Australia.

"Today's data release quite literally redefines media reporting in this country. Australia's media industry has led the way forward in creating these metrics, recognising both the rise of digital publishing and the changing nature of how content is consumed across print and digital media platforms," said Hollings.

The new reporting metrics provide media buyers with insights into the sales of digital versions of print publications and standalone digital publications, including separate reporting for replica digital versions, enhanced digital versions (tablets) and subscribers to paid website versions.

The Week's partnership development director, Dan Raison said the magazine, which is supported by a digital replica edition, elected to report under the new digital sales rules to offer transparency to its partners and highlight the continued growth of its print and digital offerings.

"The Week is committed to developing our reader community and the various opportunities it affords our partners. We believe it is vital that our partners have visibility over how our readers consume our content and interact with The Week, both in print and online," said Raison.

CEO of Fairfax Media's Metro Media division, Jack Matthews said it was pleasing to see digital replica editions included in the new ABC reports given Fairfax Media's multi-platform strategy.

"The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age are among the first publishers to provide data on this increasingly popular way that our audiences are engaging with the mastheads. Digital replica editions provide a highly functional alternative to print and are becoming a significant channel for many readers to get news and information from sources they know and trust," said Matthews.

The ABC's new rules were introduced following a wide-ranging review undertaken by a sub-committee of magazine, newspaper, advertiser and media buyer representatives, including members from the Media Federation of Australia (MFA), the Australian Association of National Advertisers (AANA), and magazine and newspaper publishers.

ABC chief executive Paul Dovas congratulated the first publications to report digital sales under the new rules and encouraged others to follow their lead.

"We are delighted that these early adopters have already taken the opportunity to report under the new rules and, as publishers adjust their systems and recognise the value of this more granular sales data, we will see more titles reporting," said Dovas.

"This is the most significant change to media reporting in Australia since the creation of the ABC and it's only fitting that it coincides with our 80th anniversary. Delivering the same level of accountability and confidence that print has enjoyed over the past 80 years to digital, will ensure certainty into the future for our industry."

Established in 1932 to address advertisers' demand for greater scrutiny of publishers' circulation claims, the ABC's founding members included newspapers such as The Age and The Argus, advertisers including Wrigley's, Colgate-Palmolive and Berlei and industry suppliers such as Gordon & Gotch.

Current members can find more information and supporting materials on the ABC's new reporting rules at

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