Susie Sell
Aug 10, 2012

ABC revamps guidelines, includes digital editions in circulation figures

SINGAPORE – The Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC) Singapore has revamped its guidelines to include digital editions of newspaper and magazine in circulation figures for the first time.


The change follows a year-long review by ABC that aimed to update media reporting to reflect the boom in mobile devices and the migration of consumers to digital platforms.

ABC said the updated guidelines, which will apply immediately in the next audit and circulation, will cover replica digital editions, such as the reproduction of a print edition in a PDF.

It said a website may be considered if it had the same look and editorial content as the magazine or newspaper.

But access to the digital edition – whether on a personal computer or mobile device - must be restricted to subscribers or registered users, it said.

ABC said the changes will give media buyers and sellers “thorough and reliable data” of a publication’s total media footprint.

Arthur Sung, ABC chairman, said he is sure media owners will see the change as an added validation to the usage of online media.

He said, “With the consumption of digital media gaining momentum, an independent audit process to ascertain the end users of such platform is definitely important as it adds another level accountability to our media investment.”

Nick Seckold, Mindshare’s head of digital APAC, said, the updated guidance is a positive move that will allow planners and buyers to be more confident in the data they receive from online publishers.

He added that it is another step in the direction of encouraging publishers and advertisers to see the benefit of having a third party verify audience data.

“However, the challenge will be to convince publishers in developing digital economies such as China, Taiwan and India of the benefits of audience verification,” Seckold said.

SK Biswas, chief strategy officer for Havas Media Singapore, added that ABC might find it a challenge to prove its credentials in the online space given the plethora of companies like Nielsen and Comscore.  

He said ABC must demonstrate how its measurement will be an improvement on the other measurements that already exist. 

“Digital measurement as a discipline is in the early stages of development which makes ABC's foray more challenging,” he said. “ABC is certainly a late entrant in this space and having a brand name might not be enough to prove its credentials.

Malcolm Hanlon, CCO at Zenith Optimedia APAC, said the upgrade to ABC data is long overdue as tablets and smartphone publication editions have been around more than three years.

But he added that the updated guidance is an good development that will greatly benefit agencies and clients.

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