Pass-along receivership guidelines

Determining your business publication's "total projected audience."

Pass-along receivership studies verify research to determine "total projected audience," a commonly used industry metric that describes the number of qualified subscribers plus the additional people to whom a business publication is routed, along with a multitude of demographic information. These requirements and summary of best practices allow for online and email methodologies in addition to the traditional mail survey.   

How it Works

  • The publisher and research firm determine the study’s format and objective, and then submit them for AAM approval.
  • AAM works with the publisher’s contracted research firm from before the study goes into the field until the study is released. 
  • AAM auditors review and approve the pass-along receivership survey to be mailed to the publication’s subscriber sample.
  • The publisher designates the analyzed issue for the study. 
  • AAM auditors oversee the selection of the random sample. 
  • The research firm assembles and sends the survey to the list of identified recipients.
  • Completed surveys are collected by the research firm.
  • AAM auditors verify the final tabulations as determined by the study.
  • Once completed, the study is prepared for release as a Supplemental Data Report.
  • Data compiled from the survey may then be utilized on Consolidated Media Reports. 

Drawing the Sample

Drawing the sample is extremely important and presents the greatest opportunity for problems to occur. 

  • The sample must be an nth selection of subscribers. If the address drawn is a company address only, not an individual, the company should be contacted to find out who the primary recipient is. 
  • At least 2,000 names should be drawn to make sure that at least 300 subscribers complete the survey. This is the AAM minimum number of completes for publications with more than 10,000 subscribers. The minimum number of completed interviews for publications with less than 10,000 subscribers is 200.

Sample Recruitment

  • The sample must be recruited via direct mail, telephone or email. 
  • AAM requires that all respondents be offered an incentive such as:
    • Extension of their subscription
    • Cash for completing the survey
    • Cash attached to the survey
  • Respondents must be told that their responses are important to help the publication improve.
  • Respondents must also be told that their responses will be held in strict confidence and will be aggregated with other respondents to protect their privacy. 

Questionnaire Development

  • Standard demographics must be collected. These include gender, age, household income and employment status. 
  • If the study is being conducted for a business publication, information on the respondents’ company size and other industry-type data (e.g., revenue) must be obtained. 
  • If weighting for nonresponse for some segments of the population is required, the weights must be determined when the sample is drawn.  

Response Rates

AAM does not demand a minimum response rate for online surveys. AAM does require that the response rate be fully disclosed and calculated to industry standards. 

Response rates will be calculated in the following ways depending on the mode of recruitment:


  • Total initially contacted
  • Number returned as undeliverable
  • Total sample minus deliverable
  • Percent of total
  • Number of respondents who complete online survey
  • Percent responding of total eligible


  • Total initially contacted
  • Number of people who agree to participate
  • Percent of those contacted
  • Number of respondents who complete survey
  • Percent of people who agree to do survey
  • Percent response rate of the total contacted


  • Total initially contacted (land line or cellphone)
  • Number returned or nonworking number
  • Percent of total
  • Number of people who agree to participate of those with working numbers
  • Percent of eligible
  • Number of respondents who complete the online survey
  • Percent of eligible
  • Percent of people who agree to do the survey


  • Total number of copies with recruitment ad
  • Number of respondents who complete online survey
  • Percent of people who agree to do the survey
  • Percent response rate of the subscribers who received issue with the ad

Tabulating the Study

  • AAM requires both unweighted and weighted data be evaluated and reviewed as part of the auditing process.
  • Weighted data may be the best estimate, but AAM requires unweighted counts be disclosed.