Steps for Magazines

General Documentation for Magazines

Below is a summary of the types of documentation that may be necessary for magazines to complete the audit. This is not intended to be all-inclusive, rather only intended to provide general guidance on the documentation typically necessary for an AAM audit. For more details on terminology regarding your audit, please visit Magazine Data Descriptions.

  • Rate card/media kit for the period covered by the initial audit.
  • A hard copy of each issue served during the initial audit period.
    • If your publication is fulfilled by a third party, the auditor may ask to be placed on your complimentary mailing list to have hard copies available for future audits.
  • Printer’s invoices or copies of the invoices from the printer for all issues served in the initial audit period.
  • Distribution records, or third-party verification of delivery including U.S.P.S. 3541 postal statements, UPS or Federal Express forms, and documentation for any additional method of delivery.
  • Label reports, or system reports that should indicate the total number of copies served, by issue, for each type of distribution (individual, sponsored, partnership, verified, analyzed nonpaid, etc.).
  • Summary of circulation for the initial audit period
    • Spreadsheet or system report summarizing the label reports for the period covered by the initial audit by issue. It should state the total number of copies served for each type of distribution and in total for the issue.
    • If complete, you should be able to calculate all the figures necessary for Paragraphs 3 and 6 of the publisher’s statement (Paragraph 2 for analyzed nonpaid only publisher’s statements).
  • Promotion File
      • Print offers (blow-in cards, letter, postcards, other direct mail pieces)
      • Telemarketing scripts (in-bound and out-bound)
      • Internet offers (copies of website pages)
      • Point of purchase materials (signs, cards, posters, etc.)
      • Radio scripts (or recording of advertisement)
      • Television scripts and storyboards (or recording of advertisement)
      • Advertising campaigns printed in the magazine or other publications
      • All solicitation pieces used by third-party subscription selling agents

Test of Subscriptions

For paid subscriptions, the AAM auditors will conduct testing to ensure all circulation classified as paid complies with the rules and guidelines for this type of circulation. This includes, but is not limited to, a review of subscriber orders, proof of subscriber payments, and credit cancelations.

For verified subscriptions, the AAM auditors will conduct testing to ensure all circulation classified as verified complies with the rules and guidelines for this type of circulation. This includes, but is not limited to, a review of any contracts, opt-in or opt-out notices, list sources, subscriber orders, and mail galleys. The auditor will also ensure that the minimum consecutive issuance requirement has been met.

Where the audit staff will conduct your audit depends on the type of fulfillment operation you have for any paid, verified or nonpaid subscriptions. There are two types of fulfillment operations:

  1. In-house
    This refers to an operation where the publication fulfills its subscription orders, maintains subscriber account details, and processes any subscriber payments. If you have an in-house fulfillment operation, then the AAM auditor will to conduct the audit at AAM offices.

  2. Third-Party Fulfillment
    This refers to an operation where the publication contracts with an outside fulfillment company to handle the fulfillment of its subscription orders, maintain its subscriber account details, and processes any subscriber payments. If you utilize a third-party fulfillment operation, the audit testing is conducted at the fulfillment center location where the subscription records, including payments, are maintained.

    Most third-party fulfillment operations are familiar with AAM and its audit requirements. However, it is your responsibility to notify your fulfillment operation that you applied for AAM membership. In doing so, most fulfillment operations will automatically know what various reports and documents are necessary for the AAM audit and will discuss these with you.

    Although most of the audit will be conducted at the fulfillment location, the auditor will still request some documentation from your publication directly, such as invoices from the printer, postal records, etc. Upon request, you should mail the documentation to the auditor in a timely manner, so the audit may continue efficiently.

NOTE: It is the publication’s responsibility to ensure all documentation and information requests are provided to the AAM auditor in a timely manner, regardless if a third-party fulfillment operation is used. See also Bylaw 2.8 Publisher Duty to Install and Maintain Records.

Test of Single Copy

Our auditors will verify that your single-copy sales reported for your initial audit were distributed, resold to consumers, and paid for at a qualifying price. This will include an analysis of any retail accounts you handle directly, as well as those of any third-party distributors that handle the retail accounts for you.

Any distributors you utilize will need to provide you with an interstate/inter-provincial survey. This is a document the distributor prepares to inform you of the geographical breakdown of their net sales, by U.S. state and Canadian province, for the analyzed issue. You should contact your distributors soon after you apply for AAM membership to inform them of the upcoming audit, so they are able to prepare this information for you.

As a note, AAM staff can work directly with some of the single-copy distributors to obtain any additional material we need—such as the interstate/inter-provincial surveys, invoices and payments.

Test of Analyzed Nonpaid Circulation

The AAM auditors will conduct testing to ensure all circulation classified as analyzed nonpaid complies with the rules and guidelines for this type of circulation. This includes, but is not limited to, a review of list sources and mail galleys. They will also ensure the minimum consecutive issuance requirement has been met for circulation classified as list source.

NOTE: If you distribute nonpaid bulk copies, please ensure your application clearly indicated such circulation and its accurate quantity. Nonpaid bulk circulation may need to be tested by our auditors in “real-time.” This means our auditors will need to physically observe the distribution of the copies to their final distribution location and possibly to the final recipients of the magazine. If you distribute a significant quantity of nonpaid bulk copies, then prior to the period you selected for your initial audit, the AAM audit manager will contact you to discuss the necessary documentation and timing of this type of testing.

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