The Audit Bureau of Circulations, anticipating the growth of e-reading devices like the Apple iPad, has expanded its definition of a digital magazine to accommodate the shift.
The ABC originally defined a digital magazine as an exact replica of the printed version, and had in mind magazines delivered on PCs, not the forthcoming tablets with their wide range of interactive and multimedia capabilities.
The new language, adopted at the ABC’s board meeting last week, says a digital magazine has to contain the same content and advertising as its print counterpart but doesn’t need to be identical in layout to the print version to be counted as paid circulation.
The most immediate beneficiary of the language change is Wired magazine, whose anticipated iPad edition will qualify as a digital replica under the ABC’s revised definition. Another Condé Nast title, GQ, has already received approval for its digital replica, which has been distributed on the iPhone and iPod Touch since December 2009.
“We have to understand that the presentation of the content may be different [on tablets],” David Leckey, evp, consumer marketing, American Media Inc., and a vice chairman of the board, said of the language change. “We need to keep the ABC ahead of the curve on this one and talk about how the future can embrace all platforms.”
“ABC’s action is good news and a timely step forward for both publishers and advertisers in advance of the iPad launch,” said Brenda White, svp, publishing activation director, Starcom USA, and an ABC board member.
The ABC also has been looking at how to account for the evolution of newspapers across platforms and its effect on advertising models. As a result, ABC last week gave initial approval to a new report that reflects a newspaper’s total audience across multiple platforms including e-readers, the Web, mobile phones and spinoffs of its flagship edition.
The expanded reporting option will be available starting Oct. 1.