Combination sales

Magazine media paid promotional programs

Definition

AAM Rule F 8.4/F 108.4 Subscriptions/Single Copy Sales in Combination defines “combination sales” as the sale of two or more different publications together as a package and where the price for the combination package is less than the sum of what each publication may be purchased for separately.

In situations where a publication consists chiefly of reference data rather than general reading material, premium requirements will apply, not combination sales.

As a reminder, AAM defines paid circulation as subscriptions and single copies paid at an amount of at least one cent, net of all considerations. See AAM Rule F 1.1/F 101.1 Paid Circulation.

A “consideration” is any item offered to the purchaser that may induce the sale of the publication. This includes, but is not limited to, free gifts and discounted products or services (e.g. advertising). Therefore, the amount paid by the purchaser of the magazine must be at least one cent, after you subtract the market value of all of these inducements from the purchase price.

Subscriptions

Per AAM Rule F 8.4/F 108.4 Subscriptions/Single-Copy Sales in Combination, the following qualification requirements apply for combination sale:

  1. A minimum of one cent per publication must be collected, net of considerations.
  2. The contractual portion of the offer must identify the subscription term for all publications and total purchase price.
  3. None of the promotional materials may state or imply that any of the publications are free, no additional cost, no extra charge or synonymous language.
  4. The promotional materials reflecting the combination sale are not required to provide the consumer with an option to purchase each publication separately. However, subscriptions for each must be available for sale separately in the general consumer marketplace.

The amount of money allocated to each title in the combination sale, for purposes of any price classification, shall be based on the following:

  • Stated values - the value of each subscription in the sale if referenced on the solicitation (the sum of which must total the combination sales price)
  • Pro rata value – the allocation of the combination sales price based on each publication’s annual suggested price or basic price

Per AAM Rule F 8.4/F 108.4 Subscriptions/Single-Copy Sales in Combination, the following qualification requirements apply for add-on subscriptions (when a new publication served in conjunction with the consumer’s existing subscription):

  • The individual is notified a second publication is being added at time of renewal.
  • A qualifying price is being paid for all publications in the sale.
  • Either of the following criteria are met:
    • The consumer must opt-in to the added publication by paying an incremental amount for the additional subscription or the option to reduce the amount paid if the subscriber chooses not to take the additional subscription. 
      or
    • When the consumer is not provided with the option to opt-in/opt-out of the additional subscription through incremental pricing, no reference or statement may be made in the promotion that infers the added publication be “free” or at no additional cost, or similar language. 

The amount of money allocated to the add-on subscription is the amount charged incrementally if the additional publication is accepted or the amount reduced from the existing contract if additional publication is declined.

Single Copy

Per AAM Rule F 8.4/F 108.4 Subscriptions/Single-Copy Sales in Combination, the following qualification requirements apply for combination sales in a newsstand environment:

  1. The sale must comply with the “three-stack policy.” (If opt to forego the ‘Three-stack policy, see ‘Note’ below.) This means that each publication in the combination package must also be available for purchase separately at the same retail location where the combination sale is sold. This three-stack policy applies to all locations where the combination package is sold.
  2. The price at which each publication is sold separately must be less than the package price, but no less than one cent each.
  3. A minimum of 100 percent of the individual selling price for the highest priced publication and one cent for each additional publication must be collected for the combination package.
  4. None of the promotional materials may state or imply that any of the publications are free, no additional cost, no extra charge or synonymous language.

Note:  AAM rules allow magazine publishers the option to forego the “three-stack” policy when two magazines are sold together in a newsstand environment. In such cases, the following qualification requirements apply: 

  1. The magazines in the combination package must be sold separately in the general market.
  2. Magazines included in the package must have consistent editorial content in line with the transfer of publications guidelines.
  3. A minimum of 100 percent of the cover price for the higher priced magazine and 25 percent of the cover price of the other magazine must be collected for the combination package.
  4. None of the promotional materials may state or imply that either of the publications are free, no additional cost, no extra charge or synonymous language.
  5. Issues sold in combination must be the current issue available in the newsstand marketplace.
  6. The publisher must submit a Single-Copy Combination Sales Pre-Evaluation form to AAM for review and approval in advance of the execution of the program.
  7. The publisher must provide AAM with full access to the results of the combination sales effort for reporting to the AAM board.