News media circulation terms and definitions

A glossary of paid and nonpaid circulation terms.

General Circulation Terms

Term Definition Data Location AAM Rule Reference
Digital Nonreplica A digital edition that is consistent in character and editorial content with the print edition. Nonreplica editions need to contain a clear reference to the host print newspaper (i.e., "edition of," "produced by," etc.). Advertising may differ and may exclude FSIs (free-standing inserts). AAM Reports & Media Intelligence Center C 2.3 (3)
Digital Replica A digital edition that is consistent in character and editorial content with the print edition. A digital replica, which may contain additive or updated editorial content, needs to contain the ROP (run of press) as scheduled in the print edition. May exclude FSIs (free-standing inserts). AAM Reports & Media Intelligence Center C 2.3 (3)
Net of Considerations A consideration is anything that is offered to the consumer to induce them to subscribe/purchase the publication. Net of considerations are the monies allocated towards the publication after all other inducements have been applied. AAM Reports C 1.1
Paid Single-Copy Sales Copies of the newspaper sold at newsstands, racks, retail outlets, etc. as opposed to a subscription. The consumer must have paid at least one penny net of considerations for the newspaper. AAM Reports & Media Intelligence Center C 1.1
Paid Subscriptions Newspaper subscriptions where the consumer has paid at least one penny net of considerations. AAM Reports & Media Intelligence Center C 1.1
Print Traditional hard copy of the newspaper. AAM Reports & Media Intelligence Center  
Qualified Nonpaid

Copies of the newspaper that are distributed free of charge to consumers in accordance with AAM rules. Qualified nonpaid includes the following categories:

  • Home Delivery Address Specific
  • Home Delivery Market Coverage
  • Public Access (Retail/ Business, Dist. to Apts., and Racks & Other Distribution)
  • Other Qualified (Employee/Independent Contractor, Education & University Copies)
AAM Reports & Media Intelligence Center C 3.1
Total Average Circulation - Print & Digital The sum of total paid and total qualified nonpaid print and digital distribution. AAM Reports & Media Intelligence Center  

Paid Circulation Types

Term Definition Data Location AAM Rule Reference
Individual Subscriptions A subscription that was ordered and paid for by an individual who paid at least one penny net of considerations for the subscription. Individual subscriptions can include the following paid categories: individual paid, premium sales, gift subscriptions, discounted subscriptions and combination sales. AAM Reports & Media Intelligence Center C 1.1
Single-Copy Sales Copies of the newspaper sold at newsstands, racks, retail outlets, etc. as opposed to a subscription. The consumer must have paid at least one penny net of considerations for the newspaper. AAM Reports & Media Intelligence Center C 1.1

Business/Traveler Paid Circulation Types

Term Definition Data Location AAM Rule Reference
Group Subscriptions (Designated Employees) Copies of the newspaper purchased by an employer intended for their employees. AAM Reports & Media Intelligence Center C 3.3(a)
Hotel Distribution - Guest Refund Copies of the newspaper that are paid for by the guests of a hotel. Guests have the option to accept/decline the newspaper. If declined, a refund must be offered to the hotel guest for the cost of the paper(s). AAM Reports & Media Intelligence Center C 3.3(b)

Hotel Distribution
- Room/Lobby Copies

Copies that are paid for by the hotel and either delivered to guests’ rooms or available for pick up in the hotel’s lobby. AAM Reports & Media Intelligence Center C 3.3(b)

Qualified Nonpaid - Home Delivery

Term Definition Data Location AAM Rule Reference
Home Delivery Address Specific

A publication’s free home delivery sampling program which can be ordered and/or paid for by a third party. No minimum delivery term is required. Qualification includes the following:

  • Delivery is address specific
  • Includes only residential units
  • Only one paper per residential unit
  • If service is more than one day, the recipient is notified of term, frequency and how to opt-out
  • Editorial content is not required, but must be a vehicle for delivering FSIs
  • Note: Digital only permitted if opted in and based on access
AAM Reports & Media Intelligence Center C 3.1(a)
Home Delivery Market Coverage Copies delivered to individual households within defined geographic areas for which address specific lists were not available. It is a saturation of an area such as a neighborhood, town or ZIP code. A publication will maintain detail route maps of the distribution areas. AAM Reports & Media Intelligence Center C 3.1 (b)

Qualified Nonpaid - Public Access (Retail/Business, Dist. To Apts., and Racks & Other Distribution)

Term Definition Data Location AAM Rule Reference
Retail/Business Copies requested by public locations such as doctors’ offices, restaurants, hospitals, etc. for use by their patrons.

AAM Reports & Media Intelligence Center

C 3.1(c)
Distribution to Apartments Copies delivered to residential apartments and are easily accessible. Each issue will contain opt-out instructions. AAM Reports & Media Intelligence Center C 3.1(c)
Racks and Other Distribution Free copies of the newspaper distributed via racks at nonresidential locations (i.e., racks at bus stops, supermarkets, etc.) or free copies distributed at other public locations. AAM Reports & Media Intelligence Center C 3.1(c)

Qualified Nonpaid - Other Qualified (Employee/Independent Contractor, Education and University Copies)

Term Definition Data Location AAM Rule Reference
Employee/ Independent Contractor Copies served to newspaper employees (current and retired), independent contractors/carriers and correspondents who contribute one article at least once a month. Note: If the publication has multiple titles, only one publication can claim the applicable employee copy. AAM Reports & Media Intelligence Center C 3.2 (a), (b), (c)
Educational Copies

Newspapers served to students for classroom use or literacy/continuing education programs are eligible as qualified educational copies if the following requirements are met:

  • Used in accredited classroom settings or literacy/continuing education programs
  • Only one copy per participating student family household
  • Supporting documentation maintained to confirm usage (i.e., affidavits, verification of delivery, etc)
  • Can count either for print or digital editions, but not both
AAM Reports & Media Intelligence Center C 3.2 (d), (e)
University Copies

Print and digital newspapers made available for pickup and use by university and college students. Copies are eligible as qualified university copies if:

  • The college or university requests the newspapers
  • Newspapers are made available for registered college students and faculty

Print Qualifications:

  • Distributed in limited-access areas on campus restricted for use by students
  • Quantity claimed is net copies picked up for each issue

Digital Qualifications:

  • Registration and activation or downloading an application initiates the start of the subscription
  • Only copies accessed by students or faculty are
  • A unique identifier for each registered student and faculty member must be available
AAM Reports & Media Intelligence Center C 3.2(f)