Magazine media paid promotional programs
An “individual subscription” is a subscription that is ordered and paid for by an individual for their own personal use, and where the magazine was the primary purchase by the consumer.
Part of a Subscription Term as “Free”
It is possible to construct offers where the circulation is intended to be claimed as paid, but part of the total delivery term is presented to the consumer as “free,” “trial,” “no additional cost,” “bonus,” “no extra cost,” “gift,” or other synonymous language.
For the entire delivery term to qualify and be classified as paid circulation, the following is required:
- The promotional material must present to the consumer a perceived dollar value for the entire delivery term.
- This perceived value is accomplished through the existence of a contractual agreement in the offer stating the total term and total amount charged. The contractual agreement is the portion of the offer where the consumer takes action to order the subscription – checking a box, completing requested data, selection of service term or verbal agreement in a telemarketing offer.
- The purchase price for the entire delivery term must be at least one cent.
Example of Acceptable Offer:
Simply return this form to begin your subscription.
____ YES! Send me 3 trial issues and if I like Prototype Magazine, please bill me for 9 more (that is 12 issues in all) at the great price of only $20.00!Name___________________________________________
Address_______________________ City________________ State _____ ZIP _______
A contractual agreement must state the total term of delivery (number of issues or term) and total purchase price. In this example, the contractual agreement states “…(that is 12 issues in all) at the great price of only $20.00!”
A gift subscription is the purchase of a subscription by an individual for another individual as an expression of personal friendship.
- The purchaser must pay at least one cent for each subscription in the sale.
- In the contract portion of the offer, all subscriptions included must be positioned to the consumer as paid for as part of the total amount due. The contractual agreement is the portion of the offer where the consumer takes action to order the subscription—checking a box, completing requested data, selection of service term or verbal agreement in a telemarketing offer.
- Limitation of 50 subscriptions per individual purchaser.
Subscriptions purchased to promote a professional or business interest are not considered gift subscriptions. Depending on the elements of the program, the subscriptions may be eligible to qualify as verified, analyzed nonpaid market coverage, analyzed nonpaid bulk, or nonanalyzed nonpaid.
Single donor orders in quantities of more than 50, where the subscriptions are individually addressed, are eligible for classification as sponsored sales and therefore are governed by the rules and guidelines for sponsored sales.
Example of Acceptable Offer:
____ YES! Sign me up for a one-year subscription to Prototype Magazine and send a one-year subscription to my friend listed below for a total of two subscriptions for $10.00.
Send my subscription:
City, State, ZIP _______________
A contractual agreement must state that all subscriptions received are paid for at the total amount charged. In this example, the contractual agreement states “two subscriptions for $10.00.”
Premiums are defined as any item or inducement offered to an individual to entice them to purchase the magazine. Specific AAM rules govern the use of premiums, including:
- F 8.1/F 108.1 Premium Defined
- F 8.2/F 108.2 Premiums with Subscriptions/Single Copy Sales
- F 8.3/F 108.3 Premiums with Combination Sales
A premium could be a free product or service or a discount off a product or service.
Example of a “free” premium:
“Buy a subscription and get a free $20 gift card to XYZ Home Improvement store!”
In this example, the $20 gift card is a premium.
Example of “a discount” premium:
“Buy a subscription and get a coupon for $5.00 off your next retail purchase at XYZ store!”
In this example, the $5 coupon is a premium.
The following items are not considered premiums:
- Publications (periodicals and newspapers). In these cases, combination sale rules apply.
- Part of the subscription term.
- Free or discounted access to the archives or back content.
- Free or discounted access to online content or electronic edition from the same editorial home page of the publication.
- Anything sent free by mail with the subscription offer or sample merchandise that can be ordered and received regardless if a subscription is purchased.
- Items offered to current paid subscribers as an inducement to convert to payment method for a future subscription.
- See also Rule F 8.1/F 108.1 Premium Defined.
For subscriptions or single copies sold with premiums to qualify and be classified as paid circulation, the following is required:
- The purchase price must be no less than one cent plus the full value of the premium.
- The “value” of the premium is considered the HIGHEST of either:
- The recognized retail price (cost to purchase in the marketplace)
- Represented, stated or advertised value (any value stated in the offer)
- Cost to the publisher (to acquire or manufacture)
For example, if a premium costs $5.00 to manufacture and the promotional material states no value for the product, and the product is not available for sale in the marketplace, then a value of $5.00 is assigned to the premium. Any subscriptions or single copies sold using this premium must have a purchase price of no less than $5.01 (one cent for the subscription plus the full premium value).
If this same premium is advertised in the subscription offer as “easily worth $8.00” or “an $8.00 value!” then $8.00 is the value of the premium for AAM qualification purposes, even though it only cost $5.00 to manufacture. Therefore, any subscriptions or single copies sold using this premium must have a purchase price of no less than $8.01 (one cent for the subscription plus the full premium value).
- Many items, such as books and atlases, have a price printed on them. If such a product is used as a premium, the printed price is the recognized retail price.
- Programs exist where a consumer that purchases a magazine receives some type of discount or frequent buyer card from the magazine. These cards provide discounts at retailers the consumer would likely visit (i.e., a person who buys a fashion magazine may receive a card providing discounts at national clothing retail stores). In order for AAM to assess the value of these and other similar products, a magazine needs to make them available for sale to nonsubscribers. A magazine may advertise the card on an annual basis to satisfy this requirement. It is the price at which the card is available to nonsubscribers that is the premium value for AAM qualification purposes.
Example of Acceptable Offer:
___ YES! Sign me up for one year of Prototype Magazine for $24.00 and I’ll receive a free “Greatest Hits” CD worth $23.99 at no extra cost.Name ________________________
City, State, ZIP _________________
The minimum purchase price must be no less than one cent plus the full value of the premium. In this example, the purchase price is $24.00, which is exactly one cent for the subscription plus the stated value of the premium of $23.99.