Single-Copy Promotions Guide—U.S. Newspapers

  1. Introduction
  2. Definitions
  3. Editions
  4. Charitable Donations
  5. Coffee and Newspaper Concept
  6. Combination Sales
  7. Contests
  8. Discounts
  9. E-Readers
  10. Extras
  11. Mobile Applications
  12. Online Issues
  13. Multiple-Copy Sales
  14. Premiums
  15. Sale of Single Issues with Announcements
  16. 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 single-copy on AAM documents.

This guide is not intended to be all-inclusive, but provides general guidance on the most common single-copy initiatives. It is effective as of October 1, 2010.

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

It is the publishers’ responsibility to ensure their single-copy 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.

Definitions

Single Copy

Single-copy circulation is defined as single issues purchased by individual consumers for personal use.

There are various situations that generate single-copy sales. The most common are the following:

  • Retail stores will purchase copies from the publication and resell those copies to individual consumers at their place of business.
  • Hawkers (street sales people) may purchase newspapers and resell these copies to individual consumers on the streets (subways, train stations, bus stations, busy street corners, etc.)
  • Copies may be placed in vending machines (racks) where an individual consumer inputs coins in order to gain access to a copy of the newspaper.
  • A newspaper may sell single-issues of the newspaper over the counter at their business location(s).
  • Purchase of a mobile application or e-reader copy for a single issue.

Paid Circulation

AAAM defines paid circulation as subscriptions and single issues paid at an amount of at least one cent, net of all considerations. All circulation figures on AAM documents for single-issue sales are net sales. All unsold copies (copies not resold to consumers) must be excluded from paid circulation figures. See Rule C 1.1 Paid Circulation Defined.

While the above is the primary rule defining paid circulation, it is not the only AAM rule a newspaper must consider when creating single-copy promotions. Rules also exist governing premiums, combination sales, etc. Therefore, a newspaper must consider all other pricing rules applicable to the program they are developing.

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

Charitable Donations
Coffee and Newspaper Concept
Combination Sales
Contests
Discounts
E-Readers
Extras
Mobile Applications
Online Issues
Multiple-Copy Sales
Premiums
Sale of Single Issues with Announcements

Back Copies

An issue of a newspaper becomes a back copy after the following corresponding day’s newspaper is available for sale. In other words, a Monday issue becomes a back copy when the following Monday’s newspaper is available for sale, a Tuesday issue becomes a back copy when the following Tuesday’s newspaper is available for sale, etc.

For example, the Friday, July 2, 2010 issue becomes a back copy as soon as the Friday, July 9, 2010 issue goes on sale. All single issues of the July 2 newspaper sold until the July 9 issue goes on sale qualifies as single-copy paid circulation, provided the sale complies with all other qualification requirements, such as pricing.

In the example, copies of the July 2 issue sold on or after July 9 are back copies. Sales of back copies are not eligible for inclusion in paid circulation on AAM documents.

See also Rule C 5.12 Single Issue Sales of Back Copies.

Editions

Paragraph 1 of AAM reporting formats for U.S. newspapers will reflect the following, if applicable:

  • Print
  • Electronic Replica
  • Electronic Non-Replica
  • Branded Editions

Note: All editions must comply with AAM rule C 2.4 Separate Editions and contain some editorial content.

Print

Single-issue sales of print editions reflecting the name under which AAM membership is held.

Electronic Replica

Single-issue sales of electronic replica editions available in electronic format that contain all editorial and advertising content present in the print product under which AAM membership is held. Additional editorial and advertising content is acceptable and freestanding inserts aren't required.

Electronic Non-Replica

Single-issue sales of electronic non-replica editions available in electronic format whose name is the same as that under which AAM membership is held; however, the editorial or advertising content differs from the print. Electronic non-replica editions are intended to represent circulation generated by an individually paid transaction. Detail will be shown by delivery platform such as URL, e-readers, and mobile devices.

Branded Editions

Single-issue sales of branded editions that reflect a name different than that under which AAM membership is held. Both print and electronic branded editions may exist. Branded editions may include audience-focused newspapers, alternate-language newspapers or community newspapers.

Charitable Donations

A newspaper donates a portion of the consumer’s single-issue purchase price to a charitable organization and uses this as an incentive to generate single-copy sales.

Pricing

The selling price must be no less than one cent plus the amount presented to the consumer as a donation.

See also Rule C 5.7 Subscriptions Involving Charitable Donations

Promotional Material

All promotional material must:

  • State the selling price of the newspaper.
  • Indicate the specific amount of the donation.
  • Reflect a qualifying price

Example

Charitable Singlecopy

Coffee and Newspaper Concept

A newspaper chooses to sell single issues of the newspaper in conjunction with a non-newspaper product, such as a coffee.

This coffee and a newspaper concept applies when a single issue of a newspaper and a non-publication product (such as coffee, donut, soda, etc.) are being sold together as a package deal for a single price.

If your program is positioning the non-newspaper product (such as coffee) as free with the purchase of a newspaper, then the premium rules apply. Therefore, please see the section regarding premiums.

Pricing

The selling price must be at least one cent plus the full value of the coffee.

The value of the coffee is the highest price at which the coffee is being sold to consumers without the purchase of a newspaper, during the time of the promotion.

The difference between the package price and the price of the coffee (or other non-publication product) separately is considered the implied value of the newspaper. It is this implied value that must equal no less than one cent for AAM qualification.

The newspaper sold separately from the package does not have to be sold at a discount.

Promotional Material

All promotional material must:

  • State the items involved in the purchase (newspaper and non-publication product).
  • State the selling price for the package.
  • Identify the price at which the non-publication product will be sold separately to everyone during the entire time of the circulation promotion.
  • Reflect a qualifying price.
  • Exclude any reference to any of the items in the package as being free, no additional cost, bonus, or other synonymous language.

Examples

Coffee2

Coffee 22

Combination Sales

A single-copy combination sale is defined as:

  • The sale of a single issue of two or more different publications as a package.
  • Each publication in the sale is a priced product.
  • The combination package is sold for a single price.

A newspaper may be sold in combination with another newspaper or a periodical.

For all venues where a newspaper is sold in a combination package, AAM requires each publication also be made available for purchase separately.

Pricing

The selling price of the combination package must be at least one cent per publication. However, each publication must also be available for sale separately for at least one cent less than the combination price.

Promotional Material

All promotional material must:

  • State the publications involved in the combination.
  • State the selling price for the combination package.
  • Reflect a qualifying price.
  • Exclude any reference to any of the publications in the package as being free, no additional cost, bonus, or other synonymous language.

Examples

Combo Singlecopy

 Combo Singlecopy2

Contests

A newspaper chooses to entice the sale of single issues by offering purchasers the opportunity to enter a contest to win a prize. Offering an individual the chance to enter a contest doesn't impact the qualification of the single-issue newspaper purchase.

Technically, if the winner of the contest is a single-issue purchaser, then he or she has now received a gift as a direct result of purchasing the newspaper. However, since there is typically only one winner, affecting only a single copy of the newspaper, 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.

Example

Contest Singlecopy

Discounts

A newspaper sells single issues at a price discounted from basic prices to encourage consumers to buy the newspaper.

Pricing

The selling price must be at least one cent, net of considerations. See the definition of paid circulation.

Promotional Material

All promotional material must:

  • State the selling price of the newspaper.
  • Reflect a qualifying price.

Examples

Discounts Singlecopy

 Discounts Singlecopy2

E-Readers

Single-issue sales of an electronic copy of the newspaper via an e-reader that may or may not contain advertising are subject to all the same AAM rules and guidelines as any other single-issue offers including premiums, discounts, multi-copy sales, etc.

Therefore, if you are considering a single-issue promotion for an e-reader device, please review the tabs at the top of the page and select the initiative that applies to your e-reader promotion.

Extras

Unplanned events may occur for which the newspaper publishes an extra edition. They may do so to inform the public of the event details prior to the issuance of the next day’s newspaper. An extra is defined as a newspaper published after the issuance of the current day’s newspaper and before the next day’s issue. It is the newspaper’s decision as to the editorial and advertising content of that extra edition product.

Extra editions only apply to single-issue sales.

Pricing and Qualification

The selling price must be at least one cent, net of considerations. Also, the edition must comply with Rule C 2.4 Separate Editions.

Promotional Material

All promotional material must:

  • State the selling price of the extra edition.
  • Reflect a qualifying price.

Example

Extras

Mobile Applications

Single-issue sales of an electronic copy of the newspaper via mobile application are subject to all the same AAM rules and guidelines as any other single-issue offers including premiums, discounts, multi-copy sales, etc.

Therefore, if you are considering a single-issue promotion for a mobile device, please review the tabs at the top of the page and select the initiative that applies to your mobile device promotion.

Online Issues

Single-issue sales of an online copy of the newspaper are subject to all the same AAM rules and guidelines as any other single-issue offers including back copies, premiums, discounts, multi-copy sales, etc.

Therefore, if you are considering a single-issue promotion for an online single-issue sale, please review the tabs at the top of the page and select the initiative that applies.

Multiple-Copy Sales

A newspaper may decide to sell two copies of the same newspaper together as a package. This includes:

  • The sale of two copies of the same issue
      ­
    • Two copies of Illinois Today Sunday, May 27 issue.
    • Often referred to as a “Double Deal.”

  • The sale of two copies, but two different issues
    • A copy of Illinois Today Sunday, May 27 issue and Monday, May 28 issue.
    • As a reminder, back copies are not eligible for inclusion in paid circulation. See definition of back copies.

For all venues where two issues of the same newspaper are sold as a package, each issue must also be made available for purchase separately.

Pricing

The selling price of the multi-copy package must be at least one cent per copy. However, each publication must also be available for sale separately for at least once cent less than the package price.

Promotional Material

All promotional material must:

  • Identify the issues involved in the sale.
  • State the selling price of the package.
  • Reflect a qualifying price.
  • Exclude any reference to either copy as being free, no additional cost, bonus, or other synonymous language.

Examples

Pack1

 Pack2

Pack3

Pack4

Premiums

Premiums are gifts offered to an individual enticing them to purchase a newspaper. The premium item could be anything that is presented to the consumer as:

  • Free
    • “Buy a newspaper today and get a free soda.”
    • The donut is a premium.
  • A discount
    • “Buy a newspaper today and get 40¢ off the purchase of any bottle of water!”
    • The 40-cent discount 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 would apply.
  • 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.
  • Merchandise offered to consumer where receipt of that item is not contingent on the purchase of the newspaper.
  • See also Rule C 5.1 Premium Defined

Pricing

The selling price must be 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 the consumer to buy item in the public marketplace)
  • Cost to publisher (cost to obtain or produce the item)

If an item is not sold to the public and the promotional material does state a value, the cost to publisher is used to determine the premium value.

Promotional Material

All promotional material must:

  • State the selling price of the newspaper.
  • State the premium being offered with the sale of the newspaper.
  • Reflect a qualifying price.

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

Examples

Premiums1

Premiums2

Sale of Single Issues with Announcements

The sale of single issues of the newspaper with announcements for death, wedding, engagement, anniversary, or birth.

Qualification

In circumstances where newspapers are offered in conjunction with the sale of an announcement, the following is required: (See AAM’s Policy on Sales with Other Services).

  • The decision to purchase the copies of the newspaper must be separate and distinct from the purchase of the announcement.
  • The consumer must take affirmative action (opt-in) to order the newspapers.
  • An incremental cost for the copies must be charged to the consumer above the cost of the announcement.
  • The promotional material, invoice or receipt must itemize the charge for the newspaper copies separate from the cost of the announcement.

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

Pricing

The selling price must be at least one cent per copy, net of considerations.

Promotional Material

All promotional material must:

  • Offer the consumer the choice to purchase newspapers.
  • State the selling price for the newspaper.
  • Reflect a qualifying price.
  • Exclude any reference to the copies as being free, no additional cost, bonus, or other synonymous language.

Example

Other Singlecopy

For the Audit

For all single-issue 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.)
  • Other advertising campaigns

A list of internal promotional codes assigned for each specific and unique promotion should be available as requested.

It is the publishers’ responsibility to ensure that their single-copy 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, return policies, collection procedures and credits issued between the newspaper and its vendors. Therefore, access to the records of these third-party agents will also be required. These records may include, but are not limited to copies of invoices, draw and return sheets (for print editions), net sales reports (for electronic editions), 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 sales.

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