What is ABC?

ABC was launched in 1931 in response to advertiser demand for independent verification of the claims made by the advertising sales teams of newspapers and magazines especially the national press then known as Fleet Street.

ABC holds one of the most renowned brands within the media industry providing circulation figures for newspapers, magazines, B2B publications, directories, leaflets, exhibitions and websites. The core values of the brand are independence, transparency and comparability. Reflecting the breadth of involvement in the industry, ABC is divided into two divisions Business to Business and Newspapers & Consumer Magazines.

Why do we need ABC?

ABC a media industry watchdog...

An ABC Certificate is full of valuable information for media buyers and media owners. It offers both accurate and comparable data, for use in buying decisions and provides an effective sales tool for attracting advertising.

An ABC Certificate also demonstrates a media owner's integrity, in their willingness to be audited and to conform to industry standards. It is through the application and monitoring of these standards that ABC acts as an industry watchdog.

Setting the standards and matching the pace of change

The integrity of ABC data is what makes it so valuable to media buyers. There are formal Audit Rules for all the markets served by ABC, as well as byelaws governing the ways in which media owners may use and quote ABC data, to ensure buyers are not misled.

The needs of members, and the industry as a whole, change constantly. Specialist committees of media owners, advertisers and advertising agencies meet regularly with ABC, to devise and revise rules and procedures to reflect market dynamics.

Applying and monitoring standards

ABC has two main tools in its armoury for applying and monitoring standards

* Auditing & Inspecting

* Training

Righting Wrongs

Occasionally an audit or inspection will throw up errors in a media owner's submission, or will highlight breaches of the Audit Rules. If that is the case, ABC will issue an amended certificate with the correct figures, together with a statement (the Audit Report) of the amendments.

The ABC byelaws lay down rules on how a media owner may use circulation figures as a selling tool. There is a formal complaints procedure, and members who fail to abide by the rules must answer to ABC's Compliance Department. Complaints, which have been upheld, are publicised in ABC's newsletter as well as on this website.

Informing the Market

An important part of ABC's role is making sure current circulation, distribution and attendance figures are available to advertising space buyers and media owners. To this end in addition to the information on this website ABC also produce a twice yearly Review for members and subscribers.


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