18 Jul 2017 by Marco Atzori

Digital editions circulation certificate: European standards comparison


Digital editions circulations certificates are a commonplace tool used in digital publishing. Two such standards are the ABC digital editions circulation certificate for Europe and the UK, and the ADS standard used in Italy, the Italian digital editions circulation certificate.


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Having the digital editions circulation certificate provides an accurate labeling system which tells you how widely a publication is read in its digital form, as well as copies available and a number of circulation statistics by category. There is more than one type of digital editions circulations certificates available for companies to use, though most provide similar features and information to the consumer.

The ABC standards for digital editions defines a digital edition as an edition of the print publication which is published electronically as a unit. For instance, a pdf copy of a print magazine would be considered a digital edition and would contain the same information as the print publication, aside from any inserts which would only be relevant to a specific local market.

The reporting items required to meet the ABC digital editions standard include items such as:

  1. Geographical type - the UK or other countries;
  2. Circulation type - rate bands, single copy sales, single copy subscription sales, paid and controlled circulation, controlled circulation, corporate digital edition subscription figures;
  3. Provide evidence of email alerts to individuals when the issue is ready for viewing or downloading: in the form of a notification log which would include things such as date sent, time sent, name of publication, issue number, email, size of file, addressee identifier (subscription number).

ABC will test email alerts throughout the process of the reporting period. Additional information that ABC standards require digital edition publications to have as part of their audit are figures for print and digital copies by edition, retail sales, reports by rate - for instance comparing digital price with print copy price. The rate band for single copy sales is calculated comparing the price per edition to the UK print copy Basic Cover Price.

In some areas, there may not be an ABC type of standards board. That is where organizations such as the IFABC International Federation of Audit Bureaux of Certification can be helpful. The group is voluntary and made up of industry-sponsored organizations in countries throughout the world. Using their resources, a more local ABC standards code can be set up for digital publications. Sometimes variations of the ABC system can be found by searching under local audit bureau for digital editions.

In Italy, the main standard is called ADS and stands for Accertamenti Diffusione Stampa. This is one of the oldest certification standards which was established in 1975. It was created by UPA Advertising Associates Union, the FIEG Italian Federation of Newspaper Publishers, FEDERPRO which is the Professional Federation of Advertising, and FIP Italian Federation of Advertising.

The DS or Diffusione Stampa helps to facilitate certification of circulation data for newspapers and periodicals in Italy, now including the digital editions and digital circulation figures. In Italy, the ADS approves and contracts Independent Auditors. These Auditors carry out circulation audits (print and digital).

ADS standards define a digital edition as an exact replica which has not be reformatted since the print edition. This includes all pages and advertising. To be a digital edition it must be available for use on a variety of digital devices such as tablets, smartphone, and computer. It also must be distributed as one unit which cannot be broken into parts - such as a PDF of the entire edition of a print publication. There can be some additions made to a digital publication which would not be available in print:

  1. Scrolling the page;
  2. Content indexing and search;
  3. Magnification of text and images;
  4. Multimedia content such as podcasts, movies, and photo galleries related to the print edition.

Specific regulations of the ADS state that none of the editorial or advertising content can be removed or changed from the print and digital edition, however specific advertising positions can be modified. For example, a local publication with local inserts can substitute national inserts for a digital edition. Otherwise, it is only by the request of an advertiser that the publisher is permitted to remove or substitute insertions which appear in the paper edition. Replacement pages and replacement content is otherwise strictly excluded from the ADS standards.

Having such digital edition circulation certificates associated with a publication grants it wide recognition and adds to the reputation of the publisher. It is also required by some industries. A third benefit is the ability to associate with other members and member organizations and enjoy the free flow of ideas regarding circulation statistics and perhaps even learn new ways of reaching your target audience in a way which boosts overall circulation.




Posted in digital edition, digital publishing, certification

Marco Atzori

Marco Atzori

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