Verified Circulation Guide—U.S. Newspapers

  1. Introduction
  2. Editions
  3. Types of Verified
  4. Limitation
  5. Home Delivery - Requested
  6. Home Delivery - Targeted
  7. Educational Copies
  8. University Copies
  9. Employee Copies
  10. Retail/Business

Introduction

Verified circulation is a new reporting class of circulation on AAM publisher’s statements for U.S. newspapers beginning October 1, 2010.

This guide defines verified circulation and provides rule references and qualification requirements governing circulation classified as such on AAM documents.

This guide is not intended to be all-inclusive, but provides general guidance for verified circulation. It is the publishers’ responsibility to ensure their verified circulation programs 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.


Effective October 1, 2010, AAM reporting formats for U.S. newspapers include a classification titled “Verified Circulation.” See AAM Bylaws and Rules, Article 3 – Verified Circulation.

Definition

Verified circulation represents newspapers available for individual consumers that are either non-paid or paid for by someone other than the individual.

Financial Transactions

AAM’s qualification review and audit processes won’t govern or consider financial transactions related to verified distribution (invoices, payment, rates charged, etc.). The focus of AAM qualification and classification for verified circulation is confirmation of request, distribution location and delivery.

Payment for verified newspapers may be obtained from third parties (sponsors) who wish to partner with the newspaper to promote their business. Since the consumer isn’t paying for the newspaper, the copies are still classified as verified for AAM reporting purposes, regardless if any payment for the newspapers is obtained from an outside source.

A newspaper may also wish to charge a third party (sponsor) for additional services related to the verified circulation effort, such as ROP advertising, in-store signs, and wraps to promote the partnership. The decision to charge any amount or nothing for these services is up to each individual newspaper and not governed by AAM.

NOTE:
Copies purchased by hotels for distribution at their own facilities and copies purchased by businesses solely for distribution to individually designated employees (known by name or title) may be considered business/traveler paid circulation. See the Business/Traveler guide for more information.

 

Updated July 23, 2013

Editions

Paragraph 1 of AAM reporting formats for U.S. newspapers reflect the following, when applicable. Note: All editions must comply with AAM rule C 2.4 Separate Editions.

  • Print
    Print editions represent hard copies of the newspaper reflecting the name under which AAM membership is held.

  • Digital Replica
    Digital replica editions represent newspapers available in digital 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. Restricted access is required. (Public access websites aren't eligible as circulation units. However, please contact AAM digital services for the measurement and disclosure of unique users and page views for your public site.)

  • Digital Non-replica
    Digital non-replica editions represent newspapers available in digital format whose name is the same as that under which AAM membership is held; however, the editorial or advertising content differs from the print. Restricted access is required. (Public access websites aren't eligible as circulation units. However, please contact our AAM digital services for the measurement and disclosure of unique users and page views for your public site.)

  • Branded Editions
    Branded editions represent print and digital editions of newspapers that reflect a name different than that under which AAM membership is held. The term "edition" and the AAM membership name must be shown in a clear and conspicuous manner on the branded edition. Branded editions may include audience-focused newspapers, alternate-language newspapers or community newspapers.

    Note: Separate reporting of branded editions isn't required for CNA audits and those where branded editions are less than three percent of the total average circulation and less than 2,000 copies per issue.

Types of Verified

Verified circulation has the following classes for AAM reporting:

Limitation

Per AAM Bylaw 2.11:

U.S. Daily Newspapers: A daily newspaper with paid and/or qualified circulation is hereby defined to be one of which 70 percent or more of the total distribution during a regular six-month publisher's statement period consists of paid circulation under the standards of AAM, exclusive of branded editions, and the total circulation inclusive of branded editions is majority paid or home delivered.

U.S. Weekly Newspapers: A weekly newspaper with paid and/or qualified circulation is hereby defined to be one of which 50 percent or more of the total distribution during a regular six-month publisher's statement period consists of paid circulation, exclusive of branded editions, and the total circulation inclusive of branded editions is majority paid or home delivered.

Home Delivery - Requested

Definition

Verified, home delivery-requested circulation represents non-paid subscriptions requested by individuals for delivery to their residences. See AAM Rule C 3.3 Other Verified Distribution, section (a).

Verified home delivery-requested circulation may not include:

  • Copies generated from an offer for a paid subscription, but for which payment was never made (i.e., credit or arrears copies).
  • Copies claimed as paid circulation on a publisher’s statement, then disqualified as such during the AAM audit.

Qualification Requirements

Circulation classified as verified, home delivery-requested print editions (including branded) will qualify as such if the following requirements are met:

  1. Delivery is to residences for personal use of the recipients.
  2. Individuals must opt-in to initiate delivery of a subscription. The request must specify the term and frequency of delivery.
  3. Every issue must present the recipient with a clear and conspicuous notice to opt-out of delivery.
  4. The subscription term must be at least 12 consecutive weeks.
    • If a request is made for a term of less than 12 consecutive weeks or an individual orders a longer term but cancels delivery before the 12-week term is served, the copies served prior to cancellation are eligible for classification as verified, home delivery – targeted, not requested.
  5. For subscriptions longer than one year, an annual effort must be made to contact subscribers directly via mail, email or phone (a robocall is acceptable) to provide clear, simple instructions to opt-out of delivery. The explanatory paragraph in AAM documents will include an "aging" of the subscription requests as follows:
    • Less than one year
    • 1-2 years
    • 2-3 years
    • More than three years
  6. Limit of one verified subscription per household.
  7. Records must be maintained by the publication to confirm the recipient’s request, delivery and opt-out notice on every issue and annual opt-out effort.

Financial Transactions

AAM’s qualification review and audit processes won’t govern or consider financial transactions related to verified distribution (invoices, payment, rates charged, etc.). The focus of AAM qualification and classification for verified circulation is confirmation of request, distribution location and delivery.

Payment for verified newspapers may be obtained from third parties (sponsors) who wish to partner with the newspaper to promote their business. Since the consumer isn’t paying for the newspaper, the copies are still classified as verified for AAM reporting purposes, regardless if any payment for the newspapers is obtained from an outside source.

A newspaper may also wish to charge a third party (sponsor) for additional services related to the verified circulation effort, such as ROP advertising, in-store signs, and wraps to promote the partnership. The decision to charge any amount or nothing for these services is up to each individual newspaper and not governed by AAM.

Home Delivery - Targeted

Definition

Verified, home delivery-targeted circulation represents subscriptions or single issues delivered to individual residences. The copies are distributed to residences targeted by the publication (for any term), requested by a third party (for any term) or requested by an individual recipient for a term of less than 12 weeks. See AAM Rule C 3.3 Other Verified Distribution, section (b).

Verified home delivery-targeted circulation may not include:

  • Copies generated from an offer for a paid subscription, but for which payment was never made (i.e., credit or arrears copies).
  • Copies claimed as paid circulation on a publisher’s statement, then disqualified as such during the AAM audit.

Qualification Requirements

Circulation classified as verified, home delivery-targeted will qualify as such if the following requirements are met:

  1. Distribution is made to individual residences
  2. If delivery is to areas targeted by the publication and is for more than one day, all recipient households must receive a delivery notice on the first day of service. This notice must:
    • Be in writing via a post-it, postcard, letter topped on the paper, wrap, or similar medium. Email notification is not acceptable for delivery of print editions.
    • State the term and frequency of delivery.
    • Include instructions for the household to opt-out of delivery. The instructions may direct the consumer to opt-out via email or Internet provided a non-electronic method is also made available (phone, direct mail, etc.).
  3. If delivery is to individuals who requested a subscription, a delivery notice isn’t required.
    • If a subscription is requested by an individual recipient and is for a term of at least 12 consecutive weeks, the circulation may qualify and be classified as verified, home delivery-requested.
  4. Limit of one verified subscription per household.
  5. Records are maintained by the publication to confirm delivery (i.e., route lists).

Financial Transactions

AAM’s qualification review and audit processes won’t govern or consider financial transactions related to verified distribution (invoices, payment, rates charged, etc.). The focus of AAM qualification and classification for verified circulation is confirmation of request, distribution location and delivery.

Payment for verified newspapers may be obtained from third parties (sponsors) who wish to partner with the newspaper to promote their business. Since the consumer isn’t paying for the newspaper, the copies are still classified as verified for AAM reporting purposes, regardless if any payment for the newspapers is obtained from an outside source.

A newspaper may also wish to charge a third party (sponsor) for additional services related to the verified circulation effort, such as ROP advertising, in-store signs, and wraps to promote the partnership. The decision to charge any amount or nothing for these services is up to each individual newspaper and not governed by AAM.

Program Examples

  • A department store is opening in the area and wants to distribute newspapers to residential homes in the ZIP codes surrounding that area. The delivery is for one day and contains a wrap promoting all the great sales for the grand opening.
  • A restaurant wants to promote their business in specific ZIP codes by distributing newspapers to residential homes in specific towns. The delivery is for Sunday-only delivery for six weeks. The retailer also wants signs to place in their store and a large ROP ad each of those weeks that will contain a 20 percent off coupon to their business.
  • The newspaper wants to distribute a two-week, seven-day sample to non-subscribing residents on Green St., Purple Ave., Blue Ct., and Red Lane, as these are places they want to grow penetration.
  • Joe Smith receives an offer for a trial subscription for weekend delivery for a term of eight weeks. He completes the request and submits it to the newspaper to begin delivery. (Reminder: No delivery notice is required when the individual requests (opts-in) to the subscription.)
  • The newspaper wants to distribute the Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas issues to individuals in certain ZIP codes who don’t already receive those issues as part of a paid subscription.

Delivery Notice Example

Dear Resident,

Steve's Cafe is offering you a six-week, Sunday only subscription to The Daily News—absolutely free! It starts with today's paper and will continue for five more Sundays...and you don't have to do anything or pay anything. This is our gift to you.

Read the latest news around town, get your sports scores, and sit back and do the crossword puzzle. Then find the 20% off coupon in the Living section of each Sunday paper and come by for breakfast or lunch at our cafe!

Don't want this gift from us? We'd be shocked! But you can opt-out of this great gift at any time by calling The Daily News at 1-555-555-3000 or e-mail your desire to opt-out of the Steve's Cafe program and your address to customer@dailynews.com.

Thanks!

Educational Copies

Definition

Verified, educational copies represents copies requested by and distributed to accredited classroom settings for use by instructors as part of the curriculum. See AAM Rule C 3.2 Educational Programs.

Financial Transactions

AAM’s qualification review and audit processes won’t govern or consider financial transactions related to verified distribution (invoices, payment, rates charged, etc.). The focus of AAM qualification and classification for verified circulation is confirmation of request, distribution location and delivery.

Payment for verified, educational copies may be obtained from the schools or third parties (sponsors). The copies are still classified as verified for AAM reporting purposes, regardless if any payment for the newspapers is obtained from the school or sponsor.

A newspaper may also wish to engage in fundraising activities to support the cost of producing and distributing copies to schools or other expenses. Fundraising efforts are not governed by AAM and will not impact the qualification or classification of verified, educational copies.

Qualification Requirements

  1. Request for newspapers and delivery must be to a school or educational facility with an accredited classroom setting for grades kindergarten and above.
  2. The newspapers will be used by students in the classroom, as part of their curriculum.
  3. Verified, educational copies (all editions in aggregate), per day, can’t exceed the number of students in the classroom (one copy may be added for the teacher). The total number of copies per school, per day, can’t exceed the number of students enrolled.
  4. Affidavits are collected, at least annually and after completion of the distribution, attesting to the following (See also Affidavit Examples):
    • Name and address of school
    • Statement to confirm the newspapers were ordered, received and used in the classroom as part of the curriculum
    • The quantity of copies and number of students in the classroom
    • Date(s) or date range copies were received
    • Name of teacher(s) who received the distribution (if completed by a principal)
    • Printed name, title and phone number of the person signing the affidavit
    • Signature and date
    Affidavits submitted electronically to the newspaper are acceptable to AAM (i.e., email or online). All the information noted above is required. Since a signature is not attainable electronically, the individual completing the form should include a statement confirming the information provided in the electronic affidavit is true and accurate. For example “I agree the above information is complete and accurate.”The auditor may deem it necessary to directly contact the teacher or school official to confirm the information contained in the affidavit. 

    Affidavits are required for all (100 percent) of the classrooms. Programs for which affidavits are not received are classified as unpaid on AAM documents.

Program Examples

  • A second grade teacher requests 20 copies every Monday to use for a current event program in her class. She has 19 students plus needs one copy for herself.
  • A ninth grade teacher requests 23 licenses to access the digital edition Monday through Friday for use in his class. He has 22 students plus needs one copy for himself.
  • A college professor requests 25 copies every Wednesday during the month of March to assist in teaching students of a journalism class. She has 24 students plus needs one copy for herself.
  • A seventh grade teacher requests 20 print copies and 20 digital edition licenses for use every Tuesday in February as part of the curriculum to learn about U.S. presidents. He has 19 students, plus needs one copy for himself. Since there are only 20 eligible recipients, the newspaper may only claim 20 total copies on their AAM documents—just the print, just the digital edition or a combination of both not to exceed 20 total copies.

Affidavit Examples

It is up to each newspaper to develop their own affidavits and ensure they contain the minimum content required by AAM. However, a few examples have been created as a guide to assist newspapers in creating their own. These are not intended to reflect every situation, only those most commonly reviewed by AAM staff.

University Copies

Definition

Verified, university copies represents copies requested by colleges or universities for distribution to the registered students in a campus setting via limited-access areas. See Policy Relating to Serving NIE Copies to College Students.

Financial Transactions

AAM’s qualification review and audit processes won’t govern or consider financial transactions related to verified distribution (invoices, payment, rates charged, etc.). The focus of AAM qualification and classification for verified circulation is confirmation of request, distribution location and delivery.

Payment for verified, university copies may be obtained from the schools or third parties (sponsors). The copies are still classified as verified for AAM reporting purposes, regardless if any payment for the newspapers is obtained from the school or sponsor.

A newspaper may also wish to engage in fundraising activities to support the cost of producing and distributing copies to schools or other expenses. Fundraising efforts are not governed by AAM and will not impact the qualification or classification of verified, university copies.

Qualification Requirements

  1. College or university requests the newspapers.
  2. Distribution occurs in limited-access areas on campus restricted for use by students (i.e., dormitories, cafeterias, classroom buildings, or via "smart vending machines" operated by a student ID.)
  3. Verified, university copies (all editions in aggregate) can’t exceed the number of registered students enrolled.
  4. Only the number of copies actually picked up may qualify as verified circulation (gross draw less leftovers each day).
  5. Records are maintained by the publication to confirm delivery and leftovers for each pickup location on campus.

Program Example

AAM University has 2,000 registered college students and requests 2,000 print copies be made available in restricted areas on campus each day. Each day the newspaper records the number of copies leftover at each drop location on campus. The total number of copies eligible for verified, university copies each day is 2,000 less the number of leftovers.

Employee Copies

Definition

Verified, employee/independent contractor copies represents copies served to employees and retired employees as a benefit of employment and to independent contractors and correspondents as a benefit of their contract. See AAM Rule C 3.1 Employee, Correspondent and Agent Copies.

Qualification Requirements

Circulation classified as verified, employee copies will qualify as such if the following requirements are met:

  1. The recipients are:
    • Employees on the regular payroll (full or part-time) of the newspaper during the reporting period.
    • Employees of subsidiaries on the regular payroll and are actively engaged in the production or distribution of the newspaper.
    • Independent contractors (agents) currently involved in delivering the newspaper to subscribers.
    • Correspondents contributing at least one article per month that is printed in the newspaper.
  2. There is a limit of one copy per day, per recipient. If an individual is employed or contracted with more than one publication, only one newspaper may claim an employee copy for that individual.
  3. The copies must be easily accessible to the recipients (made available for use or pick up in the normal work environment or delivered to retirees’ homes).
  4. Records are maintained by the publication to confirm the distribution of the newspapers and active status of employment, retirement, contractor or correspondent.

Financial Transactions

AAM’s qualification review and audit processes won’t govern or consider financial transactions related to verified distribution (invoices, payment, rates charged, etc.). The focus of AAM qualification and classification for verified circulation is confirmation of employee eligibility and availability of copies.

If an employee, retiree, agent or correspondent orders and pays for a home-delivered subscription, those copies qualify and may be classified as individually paid, home delivery on AAM documents.

Retail/Business

Definition

Verified, retail/business circulation represents copies requested by businesses for reoccurring distribution to its patrons. See AAM Rule C 3.3 Other Verified Distribution, section (c).

Qualification Requirements

Circulation classified as verified, retail/business will qualify as such if all the following requirements are met:

  1. A business or organization specifically requests newspapers for distribution to its patrons.
  2. Distribution is reoccurring.
  3. The request contains the following:
    • List of distribution locations
    • Days of delivery (Mon, Tues, Wed, etc.)
    • Quantity of newspapers for each day of the week
    • Business name and address
    • Printed name, title and contact information of the requestor
    • Signature and date of the requestor
  4. Records are maintained by the publication to confirm the business’s request and delivery.

Financial Transactions

AAM’s qualification review and audit processes won’t govern or consider financial transactions related to verified distribution (invoices, payment, rates charged, etc.). The focus of AAM qualification and classification for verified circulation is confirmation of request, distribution location and delivery.

Payment for verified newspapers may be obtained from the businesses that request delivery of the newspapers for their patrons. Since the guest or patron isn’t paying for the newspaper, the copies are still classified as verified for AAM reporting purposes, regardless if any payment for the newspapers is obtained from the business.

A newspaper may also wish to charge the businesses for additional services related to the verified circulation effort, such as ROP advertising, in-store signs, and wraps to promote the partnership. The decision to charge any amount or nothing for these services is up to each individual newspaper and not governed by AAM.

NOTE:
Copies purchased by hotels for distribution at their own facilities and copies purchased by businesses solely for distribution to designated employees (by name or title) may be considered business/traveler paid circulation. See the Business/Traveler guide for more information.

Program Examples

  • A cafe requests 10 copies every Monday through Friday for use by its customers.
  • A doctor’s office orders three copies per day to have in their waiting room.
  • A nursing home, hospital, auto dealership and tax office each request 20 copies per day to have available in their common areas or to distribute to patients and preferred clients.
  • An airline orders 50 copies per day for use on its flights and airline clubs.
  • A car rental agency orders 25 copies per day to place in the vehicles of their Gold Club members.
  • A fast food place orders 30 copies per day for a month to give out to customers who order the new chicken meal.
  • A hotel orders 50 copies per day for distribution to its guests. NOTE: If a hotel pays for its newspapers, the copies may be considered business/traveler paid circulation. See the Business/Traveler guide for more information.
  • A company orders 20 copies per day to place in common areas for use by its employees. NOTE: If a company pays for its newspapers solely for distribution to individually designated employees (by name or title), the copies may be considered business/traveler paid circulation. See the Business/Traveler guide for more information.

Request Example

Want to add extra value for your patrons or guests?
Bring newspapers into your business or waiting room!

Having newspapers available for your guests can improve their overall experience. Whether they're eating a meal or waiting for an appointment, reading a newspaper helps pass the time and keeps your customers informed on the day's news, sports scene, and upcoming local events.

Interested in making your customers' experience better? Sign up today! To get delivery started, complete and submit this form to The Daily News, 100 Main Street, Anytown, IL 60000 or go online to www.dailynews.com/retailrequest.html.


Yes! Please begin delivery of newspapers to my business as soon as possible so I can make them available to my guests.

 # of newspapers: ______ (Limit 20 per day)
Days of delivery (circle all that apply): Mon Tues Wed Thurs Fri Sat Sun

Business name: ______________    
Street Address: ______________    
City, State, ZIP: ______________  

Requestor's Name: ______________ Requestor's Title: ______________
Phone #: ______________ E-mail Address: ______________

________________________
Signature
______________
Date


Inline Content