Welcome to AAM Canada

Digital Editions

  1. Introduction
  2. Paid Circulation
  3. Qualified Circulation

Introduction

This guide addresses Canadian newspaper publishers’ most frequently asked questions about digital editions pertaining to AAM rules, guidelines and reporting formats.

If you are developing an initiative that is not addressed in this guide, please contact an AAM representative to discuss.

Eligibility of Digital Products

Digital editions are eligible for inclusion as circulation units in AAM’s database and documents if they are:

  • Consistent in character and editorially homogeneous with the print edition.
  • Compliant with AAM Rule C 102.3 Separate Editions.
  • Have restricted access (does not include public-access websites).

Newspapers may utilize a variety of platforms to make their digital editions accessible to readers including  restricted-access websites, tablets, e-readers and smartphones.

Replica and Nonreplica

A replica digital edition has the following characteristics:

  • Consistent in editorial and advertising content with the print edition.
  • Layout is consistent in presentation with the print edition.
  • May exclude FSI advertising (free-standing inserts).
  • May include updated news content.
  • May include advertising additive to the print edition.

A nonreplica digital edition has the following characteristics:

  • Consistent in character with the print edition.
  • Editorially homogeneous with the print edition.
  • Advertising content may differ.

If you want AAM to review your nonreplica digital edition, please submit access information and a copy of the print edition to an AAM representative.

Paid Circulation

Individual Subscriptions

Each subscription purchased by an individual, for inclusion on AAM documents as paid individual subscriptions, must be paid at a qualifying price of at least one cent, net of all considerations.

See AAM Rule C 101.1 Paid Circulation Defined.

Single-Copy Sales

Single issues purchased by an individual, for inclusion on AAM documents as paid single copy, must be paid at a qualifying price of at least one cent, net of all considerations.

See AAM Rule C 101.1 Paid Circulation Defined.

Only current single issues are eligible as paid (archived issues are excluded). See AAM Rule C 105.11 Single-Issue Sales of Back Copies.

Digital Bundles

A “digital bundle” is defined as the sale of print and digital editions together or multiple digital editions sold together. See AAM Rule C 101.5 Digital Subscriptions.

Digital Bundle Including a Print Subscription

To qualify both the print and digital copies as paid individual subscriptions, the following requirements must be met:

  • Minimum price must be at least one cent per subscription, net of considerations. See AAM Rule C 101.1 Paid Circulation Defined.
  • The subscriptions may not be presented to the consumer as free, no additional cost, no extra charge or other synonymous language.
  • For digital, the consumer solicitation must be structured in one of the following ways:
    1. Offer a print-only option, offer each digital edition (platform) separately and present the bundle at an incremental price above the cost of each edition. In this scenario, the digital editions are eligible as paid for the entire subscription term based on order and payment.
    2. Forego incremental pricing and qualify the print subscription as paid based on order and payment, and all digital editions on subscriber access (usage) after the subscriber registers and activates the digital service.

Digital-Only Bundle

To qualify digital copies as paid individual subscriptions, the following requirements must be met:

  • Minimum price must be at least one cent per subscription, net of considerations. See AAM Rule C 101.1 Paid Circulation Defined.
  • The subscriptions may not be presented to the consumer as free, no additional cost, no extra charge or other synonymous language.
  • For digital, the consumer solicitation must be structured in one of the following ways:
    1. Offer each digital edition (platform) separately and present the bundle at an incremental price above the cost of each edition. In this scenario, the digital editions are eligible as paid for the entire subscription term based on order and payment.
    2. Forego incremental pricing and qualify one digital edition as paid based on subscriber order and payment, and all subsequent digital editions on subscriber access (usage) after the subscriber registers and activates the digital service. The platform that qualifies as paid based on order and payment is at the publisher's discretion.

Incentives for Access

If a consumer is offered any extraneous items or merchandise for subscriptions qualified based on access, the circulation is not eligible for inclusion in AAM documents. The publisher may highlight the benefits of digital editions to encourage access, but offering incentives prevents the circulation from inclusion on AAM documents.

See AAM Rule C 101.5 Digital Subscriptions.

Frequency Upgrades

If a newspaper uses digital editions for frequency changes, and intends to qualify the circulation as paid individual subscriptions, the following requirements apply:

  • The subscriber must opt-in to receive the digital edition.
  • The subscriber must register and activate an account or download an application to gain access to the digital edition.
  • It must be clear which days of the week will be serviced with digital editions and claimed as paid circulation on AAM documents.
  • Promotional material must not present or infer the digital circulation as free, no additional cost, no extra cost or other synonymous language.

Group Subscriptions

Group subscriptions represent subscriptions purchased in quantities of two or more by a company intended for specifically designated employees (known by name and/or title). See AAM Rule C 101.3 Group (Subscriptions to Businesses for Designated Employees).

Subscriptions eligible as paid, group circulation if the following requirements are met:

  • The employer must request delivery in digital format.
  • The employer must pay at least one cent, net of considerations, for each subscription.
  • The copies may be for employees based from headquarters, subsidiaries or branches of the company.
  • A list of all the designated employee recipients (by name or title) must be available to the AAM auditor upon request.

For the Audit

For the audit of paid digital circulation, publishers must maintain records and make them available to the auditor. These records include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Examples of solicitation materials
  • Consumer account details
  • Proof of subscriber payment
  • For group, order and payment by the company and a list of all the designated employee recipients (by name or title).

For digital subscriptions sold in a bundle and claimed as paid circulation, records maintained by the publisher and available to the auditor must include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • If incremental pricing was executed, the original subscriber order presenting incremental pricing to the subscriber (direct mail piece, inbound or outbound telemarketing script, Internet order, etc.).
  • If incremental pricing was not executed, proof of consumer usage as stipulated by AAM Rule C 101.5 Digital Subscriptions.
  • Proof of subscriber payment

Publishers using third-party vendors for the sale and management of digital editions are responsible for ensuring the copies claimed as paid circulation comply with AAM’s rules, policies and guidelines.  If publishers are doing so, we strongly encourage them to do the following:

  • Obtain a copy of all materials the vendors use to solicit the sale of digital editions.
  • Know all the platforms and devices on which the digital edition is available.
  • Identify all the output reports available from the vendors and understand the data within those reports.
  • Before the audit, contact an AAM representative with any questions or concerns.

Qualified Circulation

Qualified circulation represents newspapers available for individual consumers that are either nonpaid or paid for by someone other than the individual. AAM’s qualification review and audit processes do not govern or consider any financial transactions related to qualified distribution.

Individual Access

Individual access copies represent digital editions (platforms) provided to consumers for free or paid for by a third party.

The recipient must register and activate an account, or download the application, to initiate the start of the subscription or single issue. Only copies actually accessed by the consumer are eligible as qualified individual access digital circulation. See AAM Rule C 103.4 Digital Qualified.

This type of circulation includes, but is not limited to, the following:

  • Digital access presented or implied as free to print subscribers
  • Free digital access to non-subscribers
  • Digital access by university and college students made available by the school
  • Free downloads of mobile or tablet applications

For the audit, records must be available for the auditor to confirm the registration and activation or download of the digital platform and subsequent consumer access.

Education Copies

Digital education copies represent copies ordered for delivery to schools for use by teachers in the classroom as part of the educational curriculum.    

Digital copies are eligible as qualified, education copies if one of the following occurs:

  1. Copies are eligible as qualified circulation on days the product was accessed by the subscriber. See AAM Rule C 103.4 Digital Qualified; or
  2. An affidavit is obtained and all of the following criteria are met:
    • Digital editions are used in a formal classroom setting.
    • Affidavit includes the teacher’s name, school, dates class is in session, number of students in the classroom, confirmation that digital edition was used in the classroom as part of the educational curriculum, teacher’s signature, date signed and contact information.

For the audit, if the first option is chosen, records must be available for the auditor to confirm the registration and activation or download of the digital platform and subsequent student access. If the second option is chosen, the auditor must have access to complete and signed affidavits for all copies claimed.

Employee

AAM Rule C 103.1 Employee, Correspondent and Agent Copies stipulates that copies made available to the following are eligible as qualified circulation:

  • Employees (currently on the payroll)
  • Retired employee correspondents (must contribute at least one article per month)
  • Agents (must be currently involved in delivering the newspapers to subscribers)
  • Correspondents

Digital editions may be served if there is a reasonable expectation these individuals have access either at home or at work. Only one circulation unit may be claimed for each eligible person (print or digital, not both).

For the audit, an affidavit attesting to the number of employees or other eligible recipients and their opportunity to access the digital edition must be provided by the publisher or other executive (president, CEO, etc.) A list of employees, retirees, agents and correspondents must also be available.

Inducements for Access

If a consumer is offered any extraneous items or merchandise for subscriptions qualified based on access, the circulation is not eligible for inclusion in AAM documents. The publisher may highlight the benefits of digital editions to encourage access, but offering incentives prevents the circulation from inclusion on AAM documents. See AAM Rule C 101.5 Digital Subscriptions.