Home-Delivery Promotions Guide—U.S. Newspapers

  1. Introduction
  2. Definitions
  3. Apartment Programs
  4. Charitable Donations
  5. Combination Sales
  6. Contests
  7. Discounts
  8. Easy Pay Programs
  9. Free: Part of a Single Subscription Term Stated as Free
  10. Frequency Conversions (Upgrades)
  11. Gift Subscriptions
  12. Joint Distribution Agreement
  13. Multiple Subscriptions to the Same Newspaper
  14. Premiums
  15. Previous Sunday
  16. Sale of a Subscription with Other Services
  17. Subscriber Loyalty Programs
  18. Subscriptions Purchased with Award Points
  19. For the Audit

Introduction

This guide is intended to explain and clarify the rules and guidelines governing promotions for U.S. newspapers that generate circulation to be classified as individually paid home delivery on AAM documents, regardless if the subscription is delivered in print or electronic format.

This guide is not intended to be all-inclusive, but provides general guidance on the most common home-delivery initiatives.

Simply click on a topic below for guidance on AAM rules and guidelines, explanations and examples.

It is the publishers’ responsibility to ensure their home-delivery promotions are executed in compliance with all AAM rules and guidelines. Upon request, AAM’s Publisher Relations department provides a confidential review of members’ programs. To take advantage of this review or if you are developing an initiative that is not addressed in this guide, please contact your Publisher Relations manager.

 

 

Updated July 23, 2013

Definitions

Home Delivery

Home-delivery circulation is defined as subscriptions purchased by individual consumers for personal use. A subscription is defined as the purchase of more than a single issue of a newspaper, either in print or digital format.

Home-delivery copies are often delivered to subscribers in one of the following methods:

  • Carrier: Individual that delivers the newspapers on foot
  • Motor Route: Individual that delivers the newspapers via a motor vehicle
  • Mail: Copies delivered via the United States Postal Service
  • Digital Editions: copies delivered electronically. See also Digital Editions Guidebook.

Paid Circulation

AAM defines paid circulation as subscriptions and single copies paid at an amount of at least one cent, net of all considerations.

While Rule C 1.1 Paid Circulation Defined is the primary rule defining paid circulation, it is not the only AAM rule a newspaper must consider when creating home-delivery promotions. Rules also exist governing premiums, combination sales, frequency conversions, etc. Therefore, a newspaper must consider all other pricing rules applicable to the program they are developing.

For requirements related to a specific initiative, please click on one of the links below. If you are developing an initiative that is not listed, please contact your Publisher Relations manager.

Apartment Programs
Charitable Donations
Combination Sales
Contests
Discounts
Easy Pay Programs
Free: Part of a Single Subscription Term Stated as Free
Frequency Conversions (Upgrades)
Gift Subscriptions
Joint Distribution Agreement
Multiple Subscriptions to the Same Newspaper
Premiums
Previous Sunday
Sale of a Subscription with Other Services
Subscriber Loyalty Programs
Subscriptions Purchased with Award Points

Apartment Programs

An apartment program is defined as a situation when a subscription to the newspaper is included with the cost of the monthly apartment rent, but where the tenant may receive a refund of the subscription value if the subscription is declined.

Qualification

For the subscription copies included with the monthly apartment rent, the lease (or lease addendum) for the apartment must:

  • State the term (monthly) and frequency of the subscription.
  • State the amount of the rent per month allocated to the subscription (subscription value).
  • Ask the tenant if they wish to receive the subscription (yes and no response options).
  • State that if the subscription is declined, a refund for the subscription value will be provided.
  • Exclude any reference to the subscription as being free, no additional cost, bonus, or other synonymous language.

Pricing

The subscription value must be at least one cent, net of all considerations.

Promotional Material

The promotional material is the lease addendum. Therefore, it must comply with the requirements stated above.

Example

Apartment Lease Addendum

Charitable Donations

A newspaper may decide to donate a portion of the consumer’s subscription purchase price to a charitable organization and use this as an incentive to generate home-delivery circulation.

A newspaper may not use revenue from subscription sales to generate funds for Newspapers in Education.

Pricing

When a subscription to the newspaper is sold where the consumer is informed that a portion of the purchase price will be donated to a charity, the amount paid by the consumer must be no less than one cent plus the amount presented to the consumer as a donation. See Rule C 5.7 Subscriptions Involving Charitable Donations.

Promotional Material

All promotional material must:

  • State the term and frequency of the subscription.
  • State the purchase price.
  • Indicate the specific amount of the donation and name of charity.
  • Reflect a qualifying price

Examples

Charity Example

Charity Example2

Combination Sales

Combination sales include the sale of two or more different publications as a package to new or renewal subscribers.

A subscription combination sale is defined as the sale of a subscription to two or more different publications as a package during new, renewal or billing efforts, and where each publication in the sale is a priced product. A newspaper subscription may be sold in combination with another newspaper or a periodical.

Please note that a subscription to each publication in a combination package must be generally available for sale in the marketplace independent of each other.

Pricing

A publication may create a solicitation piece for combination sales in two ways:

  • Promoting only the sale of the combination package.
  • Promoting the combination package as well as a subscription to one or both of the publications individually (optional).

If the solicitation material is promoting the sale of only the combination package, then the purchase price offered to the subscriber must be a minimum of one cent per publication, net of considerations.

If the solicitation material is promoting the combination package as well as a subscription to one or both of the publications individually, then the individual purchase prices must be at least one cent less than the combo price.

Promotional Material

All promotional material must:

  • State the publications involved in the combination package.
  • State the term for all publications in the package (and frequency for newspapers involved).
  • State the purchase price for the combination package.
  • State the purchase price for a subscription to one or both publications individually, if offered (optional).
  • Reflect a qualifying price.
  • Exclude any reference to any of the publications as being free, no additional cost, bonus, or other synonymous language.

Examples

Combo

Combo3
Combo5

Combo7

 See also Rule C 5.3 Combination Sales

Contests

A newspaper may choose to entice the sale of subscriptions by offering purchasers the opportunity to enter a contest to win a prize. Offering an individual the chance to enter a contest would not impact the qualification of the subscription purchase.

Technically, if the winner of the contest is a subscriber, then he or she has now received a gift as a direct result of purchasing the newspaper. However, since there would be only one winner, affecting only one subscription, then the impact to paid circulation would be immaterial.

Only if the newspaper held a significant number of contests or offered a significant number of prizes over the course of the audit period that impacted circulation materially, would AAM consider the contest to impact paid circulation.

Examples

Contest1
Contest2

No disclosure of these contests is required.

See also Rule C 5.5 Contests and Coupons.

Discounts

A newspaper may choose to sell subscriptions at a price discounted from basic prices to encourage consumers to buy the newspaper.

Pricing

Subscriptions of the newspaper may be sold at no less than one cent, net of all considerations. See the definition of paid circulation.

Promotional Material

All promotional material must:

  • State the term and frequency of the subscription.
  • State the purchase price.
  • Reflect a qualifying price.

Example

Discounts

Easy Pay Programs

Easy Pay programs are defined as those programs where a subscriber pays for the subscription on a continuous basis through the automatic billing to a debit or credit card. The subscriber will continue to receive delivery of the newspaper until they contact the newspaper to cancel service or future payment (billing).

Easy Pay programs are subject to all the same AAM rules and guidelines as any other home-delivery offers including premiums, discounts, combination sales, etc. Therefore, if you are considering a home-delivery promotion for Easy Pay, please see the other promotion types discussed in this guide.

Free: Part of a Single Subscription Term Stated as Free

A newspaper may wish to construct a new or renewal subscription offer where part of the total term of delivery (subscription length) is presented to the consumer as free, trial, risk-free, no additional cost, bonus, no extra charge or other synonymous language.

The circulation associated with the entire period of delivery has the opportunity to be classified as paid circulation on AAM reports provided the promotional material presents a perceived cost to the consumer for the entire subscription term. This may be accomplished by stating the full-delivery term and cost of the subscription in the contract portion of the order. See Rule C 1.1 Paid Circulation Defined, section (d).

The contract portion of the order is the material the consumer returns to the publisher such as:

  • The direct mail card.
  • The portion of a solicitation flyer that must be mailed to the publication.
  • The order page on the Internet.
  • The point of verbal agreement in a telemarketing script or inbound call.

Pricing

AAM rules require that a subscriber pay at least one cent, net of all considerations—for the entire delivery term of the subscription, inclusive of the weeks represented as free.

Promotional Material

All promotional material must:

  • State the term of the subscription that is paid and the term that is free.
  • State the frequency of the subscription.
  • State the purchase price.
  • Contain language in the contract portion of the offer that states the full-delivery term and purchase price of the subscription.
  • Reflect a qualifying price for the entire term of delivery.

For Easy Pay offers, if part of a term is presented as free, then the promotional material must contain language that implies value to the free term with a paid portion of the offer. For example, if it solicits “Choose Easy Pay and get the first 4 weeks free,” then the value can be implied by stating, “That’s the first 8 weeks for the price of 4.”

Examples

Free1
Free2

Frequency Conversions (Upgrades)

There are two types of frequency changes:

  • Forced conversion
  • Frequency upgrade

Note: The expiration date of the subscription should not be extended as the result of a frequency change unless it is done in conjunction with renewal or billing efforts where the consumer is contracting for a new, extended term.

Qualification

Forced Conversions
A forced conversion is when a newspaper eliminates a current frequency of delivery and, therefore, needs to service a new frequency as a replacement. The intent is to classify the incremental circulation as paid on AAM documents.

For the incremental copies to qualify as paid circulation, the following is required:

  • The discontinued frequency
    • Can't be reinstated for at least six months.
    • Can't be promoted within 30 days before elimination.
    • Must be eliminated for a defined geographic area (continuous).
  • Affected subscribers must be notified in writing prior to the change
    • Notice must contain effective date of the change, new frequency, and reason for change.
    • Can't refer to additional days as free, no additional cost, no extra charge or synonymous language. Rather, it should state the additional service is "included with the current paid subscription."
    • May be a wrap, letter, post-it, postcard or similar item affixed to the top of the subscriber's newspaper or sent by mail. A notice printed in the price box of the newspaper is not sufficient.
  • Use of electronic editions
    • You may not force convert the format of a subscription. You can force a change in frequency, but you can't force the resulting incremental circulation to be serviced via a different delivery format.
    • In other words, if the conversion applies only to print subscribers, then the default delivery of the incremental circulation must also be print. The subscriber notice may promote the benefits of electronic editions and even entice them to switch formats, but ultimately, the decision to change the format of delivery must be that of the subscriber.

Frequency Upgrades
A frequency upgrade is when newspaper personnel choose to upgrade a subcriber's frequency at their own discretion (no elimination of current frequencies). The intent is to classify the incremental circulation as paid on AAM documents.

For the incremental copies to qualify as paid circulation, the following is required:

  • The upgrade effort must affect a defined geographic area (continuous)
  • Affected subscribers must be notified in writing prior to the change.
    • Notice must contain effective date of the change, new frequency, and instructions on how to opt-out of the upgraded service.
    • Opt-out instructions must be clear and simple.
    • Can't refer to additional days as free, no additional cost, no extra charge or synonymous language. Rather, it should state the additional service is "included with the current paid subscription."
    • May be a wrap, letter, post-it, postcard or similar item affixed to the top of the subscriber's newspaper or sent by mail. A notice printed in the price box of the newspaper is not sufficient.
  • Minimum service must be 12 weeks.
    • If an opt-out is received any time during the initial 12-week period, all incremental circulation served must be classified as unpaid on AAM documents.
    • If an opt-out is received after the initial 12-week period, all incremental copies served up to the date the opt-out notice was received may be classified as paid circulation.
    • If a subscriber renews a paid subscription for the upgraded frequency during the initial 12-week period, then all incremental circulation served prior and after the paid renewal may be classifed as paid circulation.
  • Use of electronic editions
    • You may not force convert the format of a subscription. You can choose to upgrade a subscriber at your discretion, but you can't force the resulting incremental circulation to be serviced via a different delivery format.
    • In other words, if the conversion applies only to print subscribers, then the default delivery of the incremental circulation must also be print. The subscriber notice may promote the benefits of electronic editions and even entice them to switch formats, but ultimately, the decision to change the format of delivery must be that of the subscriber.

Pricing

All subscribers affected by a frequency change must have paid no less than one cent, net of all considerations, for their current subscription.

Promotional Material (Subscriber Notices)

Forced Conversions:

  • Notice must contain effective date of the change, new frequency, and reason for change.
  • Can't refer to additional days as free, no additional cost, no extra charge or synonymous language. Rather, it should state the additional service is "included with the current paid subscription."
  • May be a wrap, letter, post-it, postcard or similar item affixed to the top of the subscriber's newspaper or sent by mail. A notice printed in the price box of the newspaper is not sufficient.
  • Can't force change in delivery of format (print to digital edition). Default must be same as original subscription.
  • May entice subscriber to receive additional delivery in electronic format, but consumer must opt-in.

Frequency Upgrades:

  • Notice must contain effective date of the change, new frequency, and instructions on how to opt-out of the upgraded service.
  • Opt-out instructions must be clear and simple.
  • Can't refer to additional days as free, no additional cost, no extra charge or synonymous language. Rather, it should state the additional service is "included with the current paid subscription."
  • May be a wrap, letter, post-it, postcard or similar item affixed to the top of the subscriber's newspaper or sent by mail. A notice printed in the price box of the newspaper is not sufficient.
  • Can't force change in delivery format (print to digital edition). Default format must be same as original subscription.
  • May entice subscriber to receive additional delivery in electronic format, but consumer must opt-in.

Examples

Conv1
Conv2

Gift Subscriptions

A gift subscription is defined as a subscription purchased by an individual for another individual as a normal expression of friendship. The same individual may purchase gift subscriptions up to a quantity of 50.

Quantities of 50 gift subscriptions or more, purchased by a single individual, shall be considered verified retail/business. Subscriptions ordered by a business entity to promote their professional or business interests, at any quantity, shall not be considered gift subscriptions. Rather, the copies are classified as either verified or unpaid, whichever is appropriate. (See Verified Circulation Guide.)

Pricing

If a single gift subscription is purchased, then the subscription must be paid for at no less than one cent each, net of all considerations.

When two or more subscriptions are purchased in a single sale, then the promotion must also offer the sale of a single subscription for at least one cent less than the multiple sale price.

Promotional Material

All promotional material must:

  • Identify the number of subscriptions in the sale.
  • State the term and frequency of each subscription.
  • State the purchase price.
  • Reflect a qualifying price.
  • Exclude any reference to any of the subscriptions as being free, no additional cost, bonus, or other synonymous language.

Examples

Gift1
Gift2
Gift3

See also multiple subscriptions to the same newspaper.

Joint Distribution Agreement

A joint distribution agreement (JDA) is defined as a situation when a newspaper that publishes less than seven days a week wants to distribute copies of another newspaper on its non-publishing days.

For example, Newspaper A publishes a newspaper on Monday through Saturday, but not on Sunday. Newspaper B publishes seven days a week. Newspaper A may wish to enter into a joint distribution agreement to service its subscribers with Newspaper B on Sunday.

Qualification

If a newspaper wishes to enter into a joint distribution agreement, the following requirements must be met as of the date the agreement becomes effective:

  • All frequencies of the newspaper must include the joint day(s) of delivery
  • It may only enter into a joint distribution agreement for no more than two days on which it does not publish.
  • Subscribers must be offered an opportunity to opt-out of the additional days of service.

Example:
Newspaper A publishes a newspaper on Monday through Thursday. Newspaper B publishes seven days a week. Newspaper A may wish to enter into a joint distribution agreement to service its subscribers with Newspaper B for Friday and Sunday. As of the effective date of the joint distribution agreement, the following must occur:

  • The Friday and Sunday issue of Newspaper B must be forced on all subscribers of Newspaper A, however, an opt-out notice must be provided.
  • All frequencies of Newspaper A offers must include the Friday and Sunday issues of Newspaper B.
  • Newspaper A may not expand its joint distribution to include Saturday of Newspaper B, as it is already servicing the maximum limit of two joint days on which it does not publish.

Pricing

A basic price must be established for the joint distribution agreement frequency.

All current subscribers to whom the joint distribution service was added must have paid a minimum of one cent, net of all considerations. All new and renewal subscription offers must reflect a qualifying price of no less than one cent, net of all considerations.

Promotional Material

All promotional material must:

  • State the two newspapers involved in the joint distribution agreement.
  • State the term and frequency of the joint distribution service.
  • State the purchase price.
  • Reflect a qualifying price.
  • Exclude any reference to either of the newspapers as being free, no additional cost, bonus, or other synonymous language.

Examples

Joint1
Joint2

Multiple Subscriptions to the Same Newspaper

A multiple subscription sale is defined as the sale of two or more print subscriptions of the same newspaper to one individual, for personal use (not intended for resale).

If copies are being ordered by a business to promote their professional interests, then home-delivery rules do not apply. Rather, the copies are classified as either verified or unpaid, whichever is appropriate. (See Verified Circulation Guide.).

For offers involving print and digital editions sold together, or multiple digital editions sold together, see AAM's Digital Editions Guide.

Pricing

Subscriptions of the newspaper may be sold at no less than one cent, net of all considerations.

When two or more subscriptions to the same newspaper are purchased in a single sale, the promotion must also offer a single subscription for at least one cent less than the package price.

Promotional Material

All promotional material must:

  • Identify the subscriptions involved in the sale.
  • State the term and frequency of each subscription.
  • State the purchase price for the multiple subscriptions as a package.
  • Offer a single subscription separately for a price at least one cent lower than the package price.
  • Exclude reference to any of the subscriptions as being free, no additional cost, bonus or other synonymous language.

Examples

Multi1
Multi2

Premiums

Premiums are defined as any item or inducement offered to an individual to entice them to purchase a subscription. The premium item could be anything that is:

  • Free
      ­
    • “Buy a subscription and get a free $20 gift card to a local home improvement store!” ­
    • The gift card is a premium.

  • A discount
      ­
    • “Buy a subscription and get a coupon for $5.00 off your next oil change!”
    • The $5.00 coupon is a premium.
    • Note: Coupons in the newspaper (ROP and FSI) are not considered premiums.

The following items are not considered premiums:

  • Publications (newspaper and periodical) published four or more times per year. In these cases, combination sales rules and guidelines apply.
  • Part of the subscription term. See the section on part of a single subscription term stated as free.
  • Free or discounted access to the archives or back content.
  • Free or discounted access to online content or electronic edition from the same editorial home page of the publication.
  • Anything sent free by mail with the subscription offer or sample merchandise that can be ordered and received regardless if a subscription is purchased.
  • Items offered to current paid subscribers as an inducement to convert to payment method for a future subscription.
  • See also Rule C 5.1 Premium Defined

Pricing

AAM rules require that when a premium is offered with a subscription, the consumer must pay at least one cent, plus no less than the full value of the premium. See Rule C 5.2 Premiums with Subscriptions/Single Copy Sales

The full value of the premium is considered to be the highest of the following:

  • Stated value (value stated on the promotional material)
  • Retail value (price it would cost a consumer to buy the item in the public marketplace)
  • Cost to publisher (cost to obtain or produce the item)

In some cases, an item may not be sold to the public and the promotional material will not state a value. In those cases, the cost to publisher would be used to determine the premium value. However, if more than one value exists, the premium value is always considered the highest value for AAM qualification.

For Easy Pay offers, the circulation may be claimed as paid once the subscriber has made enough debit or credit card payments to cover the minimum of one cent for the term delivered, plus no less than the full value of the premium.

Promotional Material

All promotional material must:

  • State the term and frequency of the subscription.
  • State the purchase price.
  • State the premium being offered with the sale of the newspaper.
  • Reflect a qualifying price.

The promotional material may state that the premium is free to the consumer with the purchase of the subscription. The subscription itself may not be stated or implied as free.

Examples

Home Deliv Promo US - pre1
Pre2

Pre3

Previous Sunday

The program commonly referred to as the previous Sunday program is one where a consumer is offered a copy of the most recent Sunday paper with the purchase of a new subscription. This Sunday is additional to any Sunday copies included in the new subscription term.

Qualification

For the previous Sunday to be claimed as paid circulation, the following requirements must be met:

  • Must be offered to only new subscribers.
  • The consumer must take affirmative action to accept the previous Sunday copy (opt-in).
  • The previous Sunday may not be reported as free, no additional cost, bonus, or other synonymous language.

Pricing

For the previous Sunday to be claimed as paid circulation, the consumer must pay at least one cent for the new subscription, plus no less than one cent for the additional Sunday, net of all considerations.

Promotional Material

All promotional material must:

  • State the term and frequency of the new subscription.
  • Require the subscriber to take affirmative action to accept the previous Sunday (opt-in).
  • State the purchase price for the new subscription.
  • Reflect a qualifying price.
  • Exclude any reference to the previous Sunday as being free, no additional cost, bonus, or other synonymous language. Rather, state the cost of the previous Sunday is included in the price of the subscription.

Example

Home Deliv Promo US - sunday

Sale of a Subscription with Other Services

A publication may include a subscription of the newspaper with the sale of other services such as cable television, Internet, or phone service.

Qualification

In circumstances where a subscription is offered in conjunction with the sale of another service, the following is required: (See AAM’s Policy on Sales with Other Services).

  • The decision to purchase the subscription must be separate and distinct from the purchase of the other service.
  • The consumer must take affirmative action (opt-in) to order the subscription.
  • An incremental cost for the subscription must be charged to the consumer above the cost of the other service.
  • The invoice, receipt, or billing statement for the other service must itemize a qualifying price for the subscription separate from the cost of the other service.

In other words, the newspaper copies may not be automatically included with the purchase of another service. The other service must be available for sale without the inclusion of the newspapers. The cost of the other service on its own must be less than the cost with the newspapers by a qualifying price for the newspapers.

Pricing

A qualifying price for a subscription sold with other services is one cent, net of all considerations.

Promotional Material

All promotional material must:

  • Offer the consumer the choice to purchase the subscription as a separate decision from purchasing the other service.
  • State the term and frequency of the subscription.
  • State the purchase price for the subscription.
  • Reflect a qualifying price.
  • Exclude any reference to the subscription as being free, no additional cost, bonus, or other synonymous language.

Example

Home Deliv Promo US - other

Subscriber Loyalty Programs

A subscriber loyalty program is defined as a reward program to subscribers as a value-added benefit. It is designed to promote brand loyalty by demonstrating appreciation to subscribers and providing added value for advertisers. These loyalty programs commonly include, but are not limited to, additional news content, VIP ticket access, discounts to local retailers, etc.

If a newspaper’s loyalty program meets all of the following conditions, the program shall not be subject to the premium rules:

  • Requires enrollment initiated by the subscriber. Automatic enrollment is not permitted.
  • Rewards take the form of either merchandise or points redeemable for merchandise.
    • May include benefits such as, but not limited to, access to archives of the newspaper, other editorial content generated by the newspaper, community calendars, discounts to retailers, VIP access to events, and access to newspaper sponsored events and services. ­
    • Cannot include access to paid print or electronic subscriptions of other publications.
    • Rewards cannot be converted to cash or accepted as payment for a subscription to the newspaper.
  • Rewards provided to a new subscriber in the first 90 days of their term may not exceed the price they paid for the subscription.
  • The newspaper may designate who is eligible for membership in the program and level of membership that may be obtained.

If a newspaper’s loyalty program meets all of the above conditions, the explanatory paragraph of the publisher’s statements and audit reports must disclose the details of the program offered including a description of the program and the number of participants.

If a newspaper’s loyalty program does not meet all of the conditions listed above, then the following applies:

  • When membership is offered to subscribers as a free benefit or gift for subscribing, then the membership is viewed by AAM as a premium and is subject to all premium rules.
  • The newspaper must make membership in the program available to non-subscribers (for a price).
  • The price at which the membership is sold to non-subscribers is considered the premium value.
  • Per the premium rules, all subscribers receiving membership in the program must have paid at least one cent, plus the full premium value.
  • A description of the program, its value, and number of subscriptions sold through the program will be disclosed in the publisher’s statements.
  • See also premiums.

Subscriptions Purchased with Award Points

Subscriptions purchased with award points refers to programs where a consumer may purchase a newspaper subscription by redeeming accrued award credits, in lieu of cash. Commonly known award point programs include frequent flyer programs and credit card programs.

Qualification

The qualification requirements for subscriptions purchased with award points primarily focuses on the structure of the reward point program.

The qualification requirements are as follows (See Rule C 5.9 Subscription Purchased with Award Points)

  • The award programs must:
    • Build brand loyalty of discretionary goods and services and increase the sales of a host organization.
    • Require an enrollment process.
    • Require points be earned as a result of specific incremental actions performed by the consumer. The consumer must be fully informed of the actions necessary to earn points including volume of points for each activity.
    • Make accrued points available for future redemption.
    • Make a consumer’s account status accessible on a regular basis.
  • The consumer must be fully aware of all items that may be obtained for the redemption of points.
    • All items offered must have a stated value in points or dollars.
    • At least 20 percent of all items offered for the redemption of points must be non-publication items. At least half of all the non-publication items must be commercially available.
    • The value of each commercially available item must be equal to or greater than the average value of all publications available.
    • The program may provide an initial award of no more than 35 percent of the points needed to obtain the least expensive product or service in the program.
  • Each point must have a monetary value.
    • The product value divided by the assigned point value equals the per-point value.
    • The point value must be consistent for all award items.
  • If the points have an expiration date, the program must allow time for sufficient accumulation of points to redeem the highest valued item.

Pricing

A qualifying price for a subscription purchased with award points is one cent, net of all considerations. This can be determined by multiplying the per-point value for points in the program by the number of points required for the acquisition of the newspaper subscription.

Promotional Material

All promotional material for the award program must reflect the requirements listed above.

The promotional material to encourage consumers to redeem their points for subscriptions must:

  • State the term and frequency of the subscription.
  • State the number of points required to obtain the subscription.
  • Reflect a qualifying price (based on per-point value times the number of points required to obtain the subscription).

For the Audit

For all home-delivery circulation promotion efforts, a newspaper must maintain a file for each audit period that has an example of each promotion solicitation piece that is used. See Rule B 1.1 File Copies, Subscription Promotion Offers.

This includes, but is not limited to:

  • Direct mail pieces
  • Order forms
  • Telemarketing scripts
  • Radio scripts (or recording of radio advertisement)
  • Television scripts and storyboards (or recording of television advertisement)
  • Print out of website pages
  • Point-of-purchase material (signs, posters, etc.)
  • Advertising campaigns (run of press and free standing insert)

The newspaper should be able to identify the internal promotional code assigned for each specific and unique promotion.

For reporting of many of the various programs, the quantity of copies sold for each program is required. Therefore, the newspaper must also maintain a production report for each of the promotions executed during the audit period.

It is the publishers’ responsibility to ensure their home-delivery promotions are executed in compliance with all AAM rules and guidelines. Upon request, AAM’s Publisher Relations department provides a confidential review of members’ programs. To take advantage of this review or if you are developing an initiative that is not addressed in this guide, please contact your Publisher Relations manager.

In addition to a review of the promotional material, the auditor will evaluate the financial relationship such as wholesale rates, credits and debits issued, and collection procedures between the newspaper and its home-delivery contractors. The auditor will also review a selection of subscriber accounts for detailed testing. Therefore, access to the records of any agents and subscribers will also be required. These records may include, but are not limited to copies of invoices, draw sheets, collection reports, debit and credit memos, payments, and bank deposits.

It is imperative to the efficiency of the audit that the publication responds in a timely manner to all auditor requests for documentation to support circulation claimed as home delivery.

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