Circulation Glossary

Circulation Glossary

This glossary of commonly used circulation terms, which runs annually in the CM Buyer’s Guide, was originally compiled by circulation consultant Hal Speer and the editors of CM . Special thanks to the following circulation professionals for contributing additional information and definitions this year: Claudia Allen, consumer marketing manager, online for Rodale (and her circulation team); Al Goodloe, publisher/editor of Publisher’s Multinational Direct ; John Harrington, partner, Harrington Associates, LLC; Carole Ireland, president, Quality Circulation Services; John A. Morthanos, VP, Specialty Sales, Curtis Circulation; Jerry Okabe, VP, member relations, BPA International; Lynn Reinicke, VP, business development, CDS; Lisa Scott, executive director, Periodical & Book Association of America; Bruce Sprague, circulation consultant; and Elaine Tyson, president, Tyson Associates, Inc.

ABC: The Audit Bureau of Circulations is headquartered in Schaumburg, Illinois, with member service offices in New York and Toronto. As of September 1, 2002, ABC has 4,322 members, including 787 consumer titles, 257 business and farm publications, 1,326 newspapers, 1,334 advertisers and ad agencies, and 492 associate members. (Also see “Audit Bureau and “BPA International.”)

ADDS: New names added to the circulation file.

ADVANCE RENEWAL: Generally, a renewal generated by a promotional effort that goes out well in advance of the rest of the renewal promotional series. Advance or early renewals that come in unsolicited are sometimes called “unidentified renewals.”

ADVERTISER COPIES: Each advertiser in a given issue is commonly sent a copy of the issue so that the advertiser can check the ad.

ADVERTISING-DRIVEN: A magazine that derives more than half of its revenue from advertising. Most large consumer magazines are advertising-driven.

AGENT-SOLD SUBS: Paid subscriptions sold by commissionable, outside agencies.

AGENCY CREDIT CANCELS: It is customary to enter agency-sold subscriptions as “cash subscriptions,” even though the agency may have sold them on credit and is billing for them. When subscribers do not pay within the audit bureau’s allotted time frame, the agency notifies the publisher’s fulfillment operation, and the subscriptions are discontinued.

AGENCY CREDIT REINSTATES: When a customer pays after an agency-generated subscription order already has been cancelled, the subscription is resumed or reinstated.

ALTERNATE SOURCE: In strict terms, an alternate source is any subscription source other than direct mail. However, in practice, the term is far more often applied to nontraditional sources such as package inserts and partnerships than it is to commonly used non-direct-mail sources such as telemarketing.

ALLOTMENT: See “Draw.”

ARREARS: See “Grace Copies.”

ATTACHED RENEWAL/INVOICE: A renewal promotion attached to the magazine or mailed with it in a polybag, in place of or in addition to a direct mail effort. Despite polybag costs and a slight additional Periodicals class postage charge, attached efforts are cheaper than a mailing sent USPS Standard A. Also, an attached effort may pull as well or better than a direct mail effort.

AUDIT BUREAU: An independent organization that audits the claimed circulations of its publisher members for purposes of verifying those claims for advertisers. ABC and BPA International (see definitions) are the dominant magazine publishing audit bureaus.

AUDIT REPORT: The annual report from an audit bureau that covers two consecutive publishers’ statements (see definition) for a given magazine. Often termed a “white sheet” by ABC members. BPA International members are not required to print an audit report if no changes are required to the data reported on the publisher’s statement.

AUTHORIZATION: In single-copy sales, a retailer’s approval for a particular title to be carried in some or all of its stores. In subscription agency sales, the publisher’s approval for an agent to sell a particular title, specifying rates and commissions.

AUTOMATIC RENEWAL: See “Continuous Service.”

BACK COPIES: Copies served to a new subscriber that are older than the current issue. Often used to help meet paid rate base or controlled demographics goals.

BAD PAY COPIES: Copies sent out on credit before a publisher suspends a subscription for nonpayment.

BAD PAY ALLOWANCE: A deduction from gross subscription circulation that a publisher carries in anticipation of eventual bad pay.

BANG TAIL: This direct mail format features an attached reply envelope, eliminating printing of separate reply envelopes and insertion costs.

BASIC RATE: Prior to 2001’s change in the audit bureaus’ rules, basic rate – a magazine’s standard, published subscription price – was used as the benchmark for defining paid circulation. (Subs paid at at least 50 percent of basic were defined as paid.) Now that both ABC and BPA define paid circulation as any sub or single copy paid at at least one cent, basic rate is used primarily for postal purposes. The Postal Service continues to base periodicals-rate eligibility on a magazine’s having at least 50 percent of its circulation paid at 50 percent of basic rate and/or requested. Therefore, magazines continue to need to monitor these levels and publish a basic rate on their mastheads.

BELLY BAND: Promotional band wrapped around the magazine after it is printed and bound.

BIND-IN CARD: Most magazines include inserted (or blown in – see definition) subscription promotion cards.

BIPAD NUMBER: Within the Universal Product Code that is applied to all supermarket products (including magazine covers) and used for retail scanning/data-capturing purposes, each newsstand-distributed magazine is assigned a five-digit BIPAD number. The BIPAD is used for purposes of distribution, billing and credits for unsold copies, or returns. In most cases, BIPAD’s are identified by national distributor (each distributor is assigned a series of numbers and each client title is in turn assigned a number within the series). In some cases, a publisher or wholesaler is assigned a BIPAD. BIPAD originally stood for the Bureau of Independent Publishers and Distributors, a now-defunct organization that initiated the industrywide assignment of numbers during the early days of distribution channel computerization. Today, the numbering system is administered by BIPAD Inc., which is managed by Harrington Associates.

BLOW-IN OR BLOW-IN CARD: A subscription promotion card or envelope blown loosely into a magazine so that it will fall out and attract attention.

BPA INTERNATIONAL: One of the two dominant circulation audit bureaus, headquartered in Shelton, CT. BPA currently has about 5,500 members, including 1,952 business publications, 527 consumer publications, and 2,775 advertisers and advertising agencies, plus newspaper, Web site and associate members. (Also see “ABC” and “Audit Bureau.”)

BRAND EXTENSIONS: Also called “ancillary products” or “ancillary revenue streams.” New products or services that complement and expand the franchise of an existing branded product. For instance, a consumer magazine may spin off related publications or various merchandise bearing the magazine’s name, such as books, CD’s or online products. A business title might spin off trade shows, books or business information services. In some companies, non-magazine media and spin-off products contribute as much or more revenue as magazines.

BRC: Acronym for business reply card. BRC’s are the primary reply vehicle for direct mail orders, as well as subscription blow-ins and bind-ins. They are postage-paid by the publisher to encourage response from the prospect.

BRE: Acronym for business reply envelope, a key element of the typical direct mail subscription promotion package. BRE’s are postage-paid by the publisher to encourage response from the prospect.

BROADCAST EMAIL/FAX: The bulk distribution of promotion materials (such as new business or renewal/requalification efforts) via email or fax. May be performed in-house or outsourced to a third party.

BUDGET: A magazine’s projected circulation numbers and revenues for the year. The budget, now most often developed with the help of a computer model, is based on an analysis of the volume and revenue to be produced by various circulation sources, along with their costs.

BULK SUBSCRIPTIONS: Outdated term for multiple subscriptions sold to one customer, usually at a discount. Now termed “public place/sponsored” by ABC and “multiple copies to same addressee” by BPA.

C/A, COA, CHADD OR COFA: A change of postal address.

CAGING: In fulfillment, the process in which subscription orders and their enclosed payments are separated and then recorded. Traditionally called “caging” because clerks who performed this task were enclosed in wire cages for security purposes. Also referred to as “cashiering.”

CASHIERING: A synonym for “caging” that is most often used in the international market. Cashiering is also the term used to encompass a number of services designed to assist companies engaged in international marketing. The most basic of these services include accepting payments in local currencies and providing currency conversions.

CATALOG AGENCY: A commissionable source selling subscriptions, primarily to libraries or companies.

CD: Acronym for circulation director.

CHECKOUT DISPLAY: In newsstand sales, the coveted display space at the checkouts of supermarkets, convenience stores and other mass outlets. In addition to a per-copy discount off cover price and the RDA (see definition), publishers at checkouts generally pay per-pocket display fees (see definition).

CIRCULATION: A magazine’s total net paid subscriptions and single copies and/or request and qualified recipients. Often expressed as an average per issue over six months, per auditing and rate base conventions.

CIRCULATION-DRIVEN: A magazine that yields most of its revenue from circulation. Many newsstand-oriented magazines, special interest titles (which depend heavily on renewal revenue) and titles published by nonprofit organizations are circulation-driven.

COMBINATION (COMBO) SALE: Subscriptions to two or more publications or a magazine and another product (such as a book), sold in combination at a special price. Audit bureau rules governing combination sales were changed in 2001, along with the definition of paid circulation, to allow more flexibility in structuring these offers.

COMMISSION: A payment to a subscription sales agency, usually a percentage or dollar amount per sub sold. The agency collects from the subscriber, deducts the commission and remits the balance to the publisher. (Also see “Remit.”)

CONSOLIDATION/CONSOLIDATOR: A consolidator accepts internationally destined mail for deposit within a type of mail service, such as ISAL (see definition). By combining mail from more than one source, consolidators are often able to obtain volume discounts. A consolidator also usually provides convenience services for the mailer, such as preparing paperwork and obtaining permits.

CONSUMER MARKETING DIRECTOR: Within consumer publishing companies, now the preferred title for the position traditionally known as circulation director.

CONTINUITY: A type of offer in which the consumer agrees to review new editions of or variations on a product and purchase a contracted number of these over a specified time period. (Examples include CD’s periodically offered within a music club or recipe cards sent by a cooking club.)

CONTINUOUS SERVICE: Also referred to as “automatic renewal” and “’til forbid.” An agreement in which a subscriber allows the publisher to continue to renew the publication at expire, using the subscriber’s initial credit card authorization, or through automatic billing, until the subscriber informs the publisher to stop. Some subscription agencies make CS offers through credit card invoice stuffers and other sources, and a growing number of publishers are testing and rolling out CS because of its potential for reducing costs and increasing profitability.

CONTROL: In direct mail promotional testing, the basic package against whose results other packages are compared. Usually, the control is the winning package in a previous test or tests.

CONTROLLED CIRCULATION: Many business/trade publications, and some consumer publications, are sent free of charge to individuals who qualify because they work within a certain industry, have a certain job title, purchase certain types of products, or otherwise represent a targeted group of particular interest to specific types of advertisers. Many controlled publications have circulations that are mainly or almost entirely request, meaning that individuals have verified in writing or by telephone or the Web that they are qualified to receive the publication and desire to receive it. (Also see “Direct Request.”)

CONVERSION: Any first-time renewal, or the process of converting nonpaid subscribers to paid subscribers. (This term is also used online to express the “conversion” of clicks to orders.)

CO-OP: A form of mail promotion in which a number of magazines or products are merchandised together.

CO-OP DATABASE: A database comprising information from two or more companies for the mutual use and benefit of all participants.

COST-PLUS OR COST-TO-SERVE MODEL: A new type of payment structure for wholesalers being advocated by some publishers. Publishers, instead of wholesalers, would have the primary relationships with retailers. Wholesalers would be paid for performing delivery and other specified services based on their actual costs plus a margin.

COVER WRAP: Also called a wrap or wrapper. An additional cover stapled or glued to a magazine, most often used for circulation and other promotional messages. Many business magazines, and some consumer titles, use wraps as efforts in their renewal or requalification series, and occasionally on sample copies as new-business promotions. Although wraps are often used on the final issue of an expiring sub, they are also increasingly used as supplementary, earlier efforts, even by consumer titles. (Also see “Tip-On.”)

CPM: Acronym for cost per thousand, often used in relation to list-rental prices. The ad cost divided by the circulation minus the last three zeroes.

CPO: Acronym for cost per order. The sum of all production and media costs (creative, printing, lettershop, postage, etc.) divided by the total number of orders received.

CREDIT COPIES: Copies served on subs ordered on credit, in expectation of payment. These copies can be reported as paid on publisher audit statements only if payment is received. (Also referred to as “Good-Faith Copies.”)

CROSS-MERCHANDISING: In single-copy sales, the joint display of magazines and other consumer goods, usually in the area of the store in which related goods are traditionally displayed (such as baby magazines in the diaper aisle). Cross-merchandising exploits natural synergies between magazines and related consumer products to heighten awareness and bolster sales of the products and the publications.

DATABASE MARKETING: Using relational computer systems that allow for maintaining multi-product purchasing history and all other data on a customer. This allows all data on the customer to be readily accessed and cross-referenced for marketing purposes, including cross-selling and upselling.

DELETE: A kill or cancel, sometimes initiated by the subscriber or, particularly with controlled titles, by the publisher. Agency cancels (see definition) are an exception.

DEMOGRAPHICS: Characteristics of one’s readers, including sex, age, income, home ownership, presence of children, industry, job title and others. Controlled business titles often gather extensive demographic information on individuals and their companies for advertising and ancillary marketing purposes. In recent years, consumer titles have also moved toward capturing customer demographics because of shrinking prospect universes, cost efficiency pressures and ancillary marketing goals.

DEMOGRAPHIC EDITION: An edition carrying additional, targeted advertising and/or editorial matter that is distributed to a specific, demographically defined segment within a magazine’s circulation.

DIRECT DEBIT: A customer may instruct his or her bank to authorize an organization (such as a publisher) to collect regular or occasional payments from that customer’s bank account as long as the customer has been provided with advance notice of the collection amounts and dates. Common in Europe; still uncommon in the U.S.

DIRECT DISTRIBUTION: In single-copy sales, an alternative to the traditional mass-market distribution system that bypasses the wholesaler and, in some cases, the national distributor. Direct distributors oversee the parcel shipping of specific numbers of magazine copies to individual stores. Often, retailers receive a larger discount off cover price under the direct system. The direct system covers many major bookstore and discount chains and specialty stores, but traditionally has not reached supermarkets and other major mass-market magazine outlets.

DIRECT ENTRY: Entering mail directly into another country’s mail stream for delivery within that country. Also known as “ABB remailing.” (Also see “Remailing.”)

DIRECT MAIL AGENCY: Commissionable agencies that use direct mail co-op packages to sell subscriptions to magazines from various publishing companies. Publishers Clearing House uses sweepstakes promotions and “stampsheets” (showing one title per “stamp”), from which the subscriber makes a selection; hence the nickname “stampsheet agent.”

DIRECT REQUEST: Often shortened to “request.” The most desirable type of controlled circulation, from most advertisers’ point of view. Direct request circulation consists of qualified individuals who have verified, in writing or over the telephone or online, their qualification and desire to receive the publication.

DIRECTORY SOURCE: A type of controlled circulation source in which qualified individuals’ names are pulled from directories and added to the circulation file. Publishers generally seek to minimize the percentage of directory circulation and to convert directory names to direct request (see “Direct Request”).

DOMESTIC MAIL MANUAL (DMM): The DMM is the comprehensive U.S. Postal Service guide to rules and regulations, including the sizes and formats allowable within various classes of mail.

DONOR: The purchaser of a gift subscription. (Also see “Non-Subscribing Donor.”)

DOUBLE POSTCARD: A form of self-mailer (see definition) derived from the U.S. Postal Service double postcard, which includes a postpaid tear-off reply card. The Domestic Mail Manual (see definition) outlines the format specifications.

DOUBLING DATE: The date by which a marketer anticipates that one-half of the orders/responses will have come in after mailing.

DRAW: Also termed an “allotment.” In single-copy sales, the number of copies of each issue of a particular title that are distributed to specific wholesalers and retail outlets. Determined on the basis of a title’s sales history or typical sales of similar titles in a specific store or area.

DROP: Any subscription leaving the subscription list. Also used to mean “drop date,” the day a mailing is entered in the postal stream.

DROP-SHIPPING: Having magazines trucked from the printing plant to a regional U.S. Postal Service facility in order to save money by qualifying for lower zoned rates. One form of “work-sharing” (see definition) with the USPS in order to reduce distribution costs. Also used by direct distributors when delivering magazines to individual retail outlets.

DRTV (DIRECT RESPONSE TELEVISION): Some consumer and paid business titles use television commercials as one subscription source. This is generally quite expensive, but may be costeffective under certain circumstances. May be desirable for raising a title’s awareness with potential readers and advertisers, as well as helping to attract new subscribers.

DUNNING LETTER: Letter accompanying an invoice that is late in being paid.

ECOA: Acronym for email change-of-address. (Often used in database management operations for online business.)

E-COMMERCE (ELECTRONIC COMMERCE): Refers to conducting business on the Internet, including selling and purchasing products online.

EDITION: Sub-versions within a given magazine issue’s print run and distribution. For example, a magazine may have separate editions for subscriber versus newsstand copies, U.S. versus Canadian copies, or by region or certain types of audience demographics.

EDITION SPLIT: A document showing the number of copies of a magazine issue that comprise each edition.


EFFORT: Any individual promotion to a subscriber or prospect. A new business, qualification, renewal or requalification, or billing series will comprise several efforts.

ENTER: To put a subscriber name or subscription record on the file. This does not mean “to start service.” (See “Start.”)

EURO: The unified banking currency that has become the national currency of European Union countries.

EUROCHEQUE: A payment option used widely in Europe. A Eurocheque can be written in most European currencies on a bank that is part of the system.

EXPIRE(S): As a verb, what happens when a subscription reaches the end of the period paid for without renewing. As a noun, a subscription or group of subscriptions that run out on a certain date (“the January expires”). Expires may also refer to a list of expired subscribers. Because expires are prime prospects for new offers, expire lists (also called “hold lists”) are valuable commodities.

EXPIRE DROP: A subscription or group of subscriptions removed from the active file when they have expired. Sometimes, expires receive one or more “grace copies” (see definition) before being dropped.

FIELD FORCE: In single-copy sales, a group of representatives maintained by a national distributor (see definition) or a large publisher. A marketing field force gets authorizations (see definition) from retailers. A circulation field force over-sees the execution of planned distributions to retailers.

FINDER NUMBER: A unique number that identifies and becomes part of each name and address on a mailing list. When the order is received, the fulfillment operation uses the number to locate the name on the mailing list and input that record to the mainfile (see definition).

FIRST CLASS: The U.S. Postal Service class of mail that provides the most timely delivery and is therefore the most expensive class, outside of express service. Occasionally, a direct mailer will choose to use first class for speed or impact purposes, instead of the usual Standard A service class. Invoices must be sent first class or attached to a magazine issue (see “Attached Renewal/Invoice”). The BRE and BRC are also first class return mail.

FORCED FREE TRIAL: A short-term, free subscription sent without request to targeted prospects with the goal of converting them to paid subscribers, most frequently used by newsletters. Because of their high production and mailing costs, magazines are more likely to use sampling (see definition) than FFT’s.

FSI: Acronym for free-standing insert, meaning an insert that is polybagged with or tipped or blown into an issue.

FREEMIUM: Also called a “love gift.” An item given free of charge to a prospect as an incentive. Freemiums are not directly tied to a magazine or product purchase. In other words, they are true gifts, as opposed to premiums contingent upon an order or payment of an order.

FREQUENCY: The number of times per year that a magazine is published.

FULFILLMENT: An all-inclusive term referring to the numerous tasks involved in creating, updating and maintaining an active subscriber list and producing the mailing labels and necessary statistics and reports for auditing and marketing purposes. Fulfillment is accomplished either through an outside supplier – a fulfillment bureau (also called a fulfillment “house” or “fulfillment service”) – or internally, with purchased or self-developed software packages, hardware and an in-house staff. Each in-house and outside system or bureau has its own capabilities and specialties.

FULL-COVER DISPLAY: The most desirable position within a mainline display (see definition) at retail, in which the entire cover of the magazine is visible.

FUTURE STARTS: New subscriptions, entered with instructions to start service with some future issue. When that issue has been printed, the computer automatically starts these subscriptions. An example is a Christmas gift subscription intended to start with the January issue.

GIRO (POSTAL GIRO): A method of payment used widely in other countries. A giro account is set up at a bank or post office, and funds are electronically transferred from one account to another.

GONE-AWAYS: A term used in some foreign countries. Indicates that the addressee is no longer at that address.

GOOD-FAITH COPIES: See “Credit Copies.”

GRACE COPIES: Copies served to subscribers retained on an active subscription list after expiration. (Also called “Arrears.”)

GROSS RESPONSE: Also called “response” or “return.” The total number of prospects who order a subscription from a given promotion effort or series, expressed as a percentage of total promotions sent. (Also see “Net Response.”)

GROUP SUBSCRIPTIONS: Subscriptions sold in quantity to companies or organizations.

HARD OFFER: A promotion that does not treat the first issue or first several issues as a no-obligation trial. The subscriber is not given the option of canceling the subscription when the first invoice arrives, and is expected to pay for the full subscription when billed. (Can also apply to credit card-only offers.)

HOUSE LIST: A list of buyers of one or more of a company’s titles/products.

HTML (HYPERTEXT MARKUP LANGUAGE): An acronym for code that tells a Web browser how to display an electronic page or message (for example, code that makes a word on an electronic page or message appear in bold face). HTML-coded pages or messages incorporate color, special font treatments and a variety of graphics that may be static or moving. The text or graphics within the page or message can be made “live” (“clickable”) to link directly to a URL (Web page address).

INSTALLMENT BILLING: Allowing a subscriber to pay in installments. Usually offered by magazines whose annual price tends to be perceived as high (weeklies, for instance) and frequently offered in direct mail agency (see definition) subscription promotions. Payments are not spread over the life of the subscription, but are collected in full during the first three to four months. Not to be confused with paid during service (see definition).

INTERNATIONAL MAIL MANUAL (IMM): The comprehensive U.S. Postal Service guide to rules and regulations for international mailing, including requirements for specific countries.

INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS REPLY SERVICE (IBRS): An international service available between reciprocating countries for postpaid business reply mail.

INVENTORY: A fulfillment report that is a computer print-out of all of a magazine’s subscriptions, usually tabulated by expire issue, price, term or source, without individual names and addresses. Used for source analysis and budgeting. Not to be confused with inventories of promotional materials, which should be referred to as “stock.”

INVENTORY PROFILE: A series of monthly inventories, summarized by source.

ISA/IPO: Acronym for introductory slotting allowance/introductory pocket offer. A one-time payment made to the retailer for display placement. Publishers have always paid these allowances. Retailers also ask wholesalers to pay such fees on some titles.

ISAL (INTERNATIONAL SURFACE AIR LIFT): A bulk service for printed matter and small packets provided by the U.S. Postal Service. ISAL has a growing number of competitors.

ISSUE: All copies of a magazine of the date given on the cover. This is not necessarily the on-sale date (see definition).

KEY: The code that appears somewhere on each direct order form, which identifies the promotion that produced that order. “Key” denotes mini-source. (See “Source.”)

LIFT NOTE/LIFT LETTER: Refers to a folded promotional device (note or letter) found in a direct mail package that often helps lift response by providing more information or sell copy about the magazine. In a magazine promotion, this device may be called the “Publisher’s Letter,” as it is generally signed by the publisher.

LIST BROKER: The intermediary between list renters and list owners.

LIST HYGIENE: Everything that goes into ensuring that lists are clean and deliverable, including the correctness and non-duplication of names and addresses.

LIST MANAGER: The in-house or outside professional or company responsible for marketing a list and/or maintaining, cleaning and enhancing that list.

LIVE DATE: The date when an online promotion becomes active.


MAINFILE OR MASTERFILE: The master computer record (tape, disk, card or plate) of a magazine’s subscriber list. Contains name, address and other information, such as price and term, expire issue, start issue, payment status and sales method. Controlled magazines’ master-files contain extensive demographic data. Database systems make it possible to maintain transaction histories and a plethora of other data. Frequently, some expires are maintained on the mainfile as inactive records.

MAINLINE: A large magazine rack or “reading center” displayed within interior aisles of supermarkets and other retail outlets. It may be a wall fixture or a free-standing rack in the middle of a store aisle. For publishers, mainline is not as desirable as checkout display (see definition).

MAGALOG: A multi-page direct mail piece that resembles a magazine and includes samples of typical issue content, as well as promotional copy and an order device.

MAKEGOOD: A publication that misses rate base (see definition) over a period of time or prints a poor reproduction of an ad will generally offer to republish the ad at no extra cost to the advertiser, or reduce or cancel the fee for the affected advertising.

MAKE-ORDER: In single-copy sales, a specific request for an additional quantity of a title to be allotted to a wholesaler or retailer.

MERGE/PURGE: To combine two or more lists by computer, eliminating all but one of the duplicated names so that the prospective subscriber will not receive duplicate copies of the same promotion.

MODEL: A circulation model is any mathematical simulation used to forecast overall financials and circulation levels or revenue. Although most modeling today is done with computers, some companies still work models manually, with spreadsheets. List modeling is the practice of using statistical tools, such as regression analysis (see definition), to identify particularly good or poor prospects for the purpose of enhancing response.

MULTIBUYER LIST: A list of duplicate names found on several direct mail lists, which is a byproduct of a merge/purge (see definition). These are sometimes subdivided into “two hits,” “three hits” or more, depending on the number of matches. Because these are the most productive prospect names, it is frequently economical to remail to them one or more times after the main mailing. List brokers can arrange for this.

NATIONAL CHANGE OF ADDRESS (NCOA): An address correction service that the U.S. Postal Service provides to mailers through USPS licensees. The licensees match mailing lists submitted to them on tape or disk against change-of-address information for the entire country from all Computerized Forwarding System units. NCOA can correct an address before it is used on a piece of mail.

NATIONAL DISTRIBUTOR: In single-copy sales, the organization that advances publishers money for an issue, bills and collects for copies going to wholesalers and retailers, performs other fiduciary functions, acts as the publisher’s liaison with wholesalers and retailers, prepares distribution and marketing plans, oversees planned distributions, acquires retail authorizations, and performs other marketing functions.

NET/NET: A list rental agreement in which, after merge/purge (see definition), the renter pays only for the names that are not already on the renter’s file.

NET PAID: With few exceptions, circulation defined as “net paid” by the audit bureaus consists of subscriptions bought and paid for by the recipient.

NET RESPONSE: The total number of subscription orders from a given promotion that are actually paid for or qualified, expressed as a percentage of total promotions sent. (Also see “Gross Response.”)

NEW BUSINESS: New subscriptions (as opposed to renewals/requalifications).

NEWSSTAND SALES: An alternate term for single-copy sales (see definition).

NIXIES: Direct mail pieces returned by the Postal Service as undeliverable.

NON-SUBSCRIBING DONOR: A person who gives a subscription but does not order his or her own subscription at the same time (including a subscriber with a different expiration date than the gift recipient). To differentiate between donors who are or are not subscribers to the publication, regardless of order or expire date, the terms “Donor On List” (DOL) and “Donor Not On List” (NNL) are sometimes used.

OFFICE OF THE CONSUMER ADVOCATE (OCA): A body within the PRC (see definition) that represents the interests of the general public in proceedings such as U.S. Postal Service rates and reclassification cases.

OFF-SALE DATE: The date that the copies of a particular issue of a magazine are due to be pulled off of retail displays.

ON/OFF REPORT: A report prepared by the fulfillment operation, or by the circulation manager, from data supplied by fulfillment. Shows subscribers added to and deleted from the magazine’s mainfile for each issue. A useful historical record.

ON-SALE DATE: The date that an issue of a given title is scheduled to be put up on display in retail outlets.

OPEN RATE: The open rate for an email message is the number of messages opened divided by the number of messages sent. Open rates are only counted for HTML (see definition) messages or those with PDF or other attachments that need to be opened to be read. The images that are to be used within an HTML message are stored on a server. Within an HTML email message, there is an embedded image reference that is invisible to the recipient. When the message is opened, the image reference calls the Web server to load the images. A script is executed on the server that records the activity, and this is how tracking software counts the number of opened messages. Some software packages identify the recipient and will only count the recipient’s activity once; others will count every time the images are called from the server, even if the same recipient is opening the message more than once. There is no mechanism for counting the open rate for text messages because there are no images to recall.

OPT-OUT/OPT-IN: Because of consumer privacy concerns and government regulations, responsible direct marketers give individuals the choice of having their names or email addresses removed or omitted from a list or database. This is particularly critical when a list is made available to other companies for outside solicitations. There are many variations of opt-outs and opt-ins. Essentially, an opt-out provides a box to be checked in order to be removed from or not placed on the list. The opt-in is a more stringent method, in which the customer or prospect must actually give affirmative notice that he/she wants to receive third-party messages or future promotions/communications from the publisher itself. Those promoting to or exchanging data with European countries must now abide by The European Union’s Directive on Data Protection and/or the EU/US “Safe Harbor” agreement in order to avoid legal and logistical complications.

ORDER REGULATION: Computerized retailer-by-retailer draw/sale data, maintained by the wholesaler. Increasingly important as publishers strive to adjust draws (see definition) to raise sell-throughs (see definition).

OUTER OR OE: The outer envelope of a direct mail piece.

OUTSERT: A page or card enclosed with a magazine in a polybag (see definition) and used for circulation promotion purposes. Similar to a cover wrap (see definition), but not attached to the magazine. (Also called an onsert.)

OUTWARD CODE/INWARD CODE: The two portions of the postcode used in certain countries (such as the U.K. and Canada). The first part of the code (outward) directs mail to the sorting area. The second part (inward) directs the mail at the local sortation level.

OVERLAY: Consumer or business data (generally from compiled sources) that is added to or overlaid on a marketer’s customer or prospect list in order to improve targeting and cost-efficiency.

OWNERSHIP STATEMENT: A statement that every publication with Periodicals-class mailing privileges must print once per year. In addition to company ownership, the statement spells out how many copies of a magazine, on average, have been printed, sold through agents or by mail, or distributed free during the past 12 months, and those numbers for the issue nearest to the statement’s filing date. The statement is also the only public source of newsstand returns data.

PAID DURING SERVICE (PDS): A source in which the agency sells a subscription to a group of magazines to a consumer, who agrees to be billed monthly for the life of the subscription. Today, the sale is usually by phone and the billing by mail, instead of in person, as in the past.

PARTNERSHIP-SOLD SUBSCRIPTIONS: Subscriptions sold with another product or service, in partnership with an outside marketer.

PAY-ON SALE/PAY ON SCAN (POS): See “Scan-Based Trading.”

PAY-UP: A calculation to express the number of prospects who responded to a promotion and then paid for the magazine or product. Expressed as net versus gross, pay-up includes credit pays (customers who are billed and pay the bill) plus cash (those who pay by credit or bank card).

PERIODICALS CLASS: One of the U.S. Postal Service’s classes of mail, consisting of magazines, newspapers or other publications formed of printed sheets that are issued at least four times a year at regular, specified intervals from a “known office of publications.” Traditionally, magazines and newspapers have been afforded lower rates than promotional mail, on the grounds that periodicals advance the dissemination of information necessary in a democracy. Periodicals must demonstrate that their subscriber lists are at least 50 percent paid and/or request to qualify for the Periodicals rate.

PER-POCKET FEES: In single-copy sales, an extra fee paid to retailers on a per-pocket basis, for checkout display.

PERSONAL IDENTIFIER: In controlled circulation, when marketing by telephone or electronically, readers are asked to answer a question about themselves that can later be used to confirm that a specific individual made the request to receive a subscription to a publication. (For instance, the telemarketer might ask for color of eyes.)

PINK SHEET: Slang for the ABC paid consumer publisher’s statement.

POINT-OF-SALE: Publisher and wholesaler in-store marketing activity.

POLYBAG: A plastic wrap around a magazine that allows enclosure of promotion materials and protects the magazine in the mail.

POP (POINT-OF-PURCHASE): Refers to promotional and/or display materials used to encourage single-copy sales.

POSTAL RATE COMMISSION (PRC): An independent federal agency, created by the Postal Reorganization Act, that makes recommendations concerning USPS requests for changes in postal rates and mail classifications. The five commissioners are nominated by the President and approved by the Senate.

PREMATURES: Copies returned by the retailer to the wholesaler before the off-sale date (see definition).

PREMIUM: Anything offered to the subscriber as an added incentive contingent upon ordering a magazine subscription (or renewing it) or buying a newsstand copy. Printed or online-delivered premiums that tie in closely to a magazine’s editorial mission are called editorial premiums; all others are called product premiums (or, flippantly, “greed premiums”). Premiums are usually withheld until a subscription is paid. BPA now refers to premiums as “free promotional incentives.” One or more free copies of the magazine are considered premiums, as opposed to “samples” (see definition), if they are offered as an extension of or part of a subscription.

PRESORT: The process by which a mailer prepares mail so that it is sorted to at least the finest extent required by the standards for the rate claimed. In order to qualify for various postal discounts, mailers or their suppliers presort mail to various levels, from the lowest (finest) level to the highest level, according to three- and five-digit zip codes, carrier route, walk sequences, entry points and other specified standards as defined by the U.S. Postal Service.


PSYCHOGRAPHIC DATA: Data that describes consumer lifestyles, attitudes, values and beliefs. For example, overlays (see definition) are available for analyzing and targeting markets based on psychographics correlated with specific zip code areas. Demographics are now used for targeting single-copy sales distribution, as well as subscription promotions.

PUBLIC PLACE/SPONSORED SUBSCRIPTIONS: ABC’s current term for multiple subscriptions sold to one customer, usually at a discount. Previously called “bulk” subscriptions.

PUBLISHER’S STATEMENT: The circulation statistics filed by a publisher twice per year with an audit bureau. These statements are audited annually.

PUSH/LAUNCH/BLAST DATE: The date an email promotion is sent.

QUALIFICATION FORM: Any form used to qualify a controlled (see definition) subscriber. The prospective subscriber is asked to sign a written request for the publication and give name, address, title or job function, the date on which the form was signed and, often, a host of demographic information about his or her company.

QUALIFIED SUBSCRIBER/RECIPIENT: Someone whose statements on the qualification form (see definition) verify that he or she meets the targeted audience requirements of the publication and has therefore been put on the circulation list. The qualification data become part of the reader’s mainfile record. Controlled-circulation readers used to be referred to as “recipients,” but are now more commonly termed “subscribers.”

RATE BASE: Many publishers guarantee advertisers that they will maintain a certain average circulation level, or rate base, over a given six-month audit period (a few publishers guarantee rate base on each issue published). Advertisers use the rate base to determine their cost per thousand of circulation, or CPM (see definition), and will generally demand a makegood (see definition) if average rate base is missed over a six-month period, or sometimes even on one issue.

RDA (RETAIL DISPLAY ALLOWANCE): In single-copy sales, it is more or less standard for the retailer to be offered a percent discount or set dollar amount off the cover price of a magazine, in theory for guaranteeing adequate display of the magazine on the mainline or at the checkout (see definitions). The RDA is paid to retailers on top of the traditional national retail discount off the cover price.

RECIPIENT: The person who receives a gift subscription (also called a “donee” or “giftee”). Also, readers of controlled publications are sometimes still referred to as “recipients,” although “subscribers” is now the preferred term.

REGIONAL EDITION: Editions of a national magazine that contain advertising and/or editorial targeted to readers within a limited geographic area.

REGRESSION ANALYSIS/MODELING: A statistical technique wherein two or more customer files are matched and/or mailed against each other to produce “look-alikes.” The objective can be either to weed out poor prospects or to identify good ones for promotion purposes. Many list owners now offer regression to make renting segments of large lists economically feasible for more mailers.

REMAIL/REMAILER: Depositing mail in the postal system of one country for delivery to its final destination. Remailing is generally done in order to obtain a more favorable rate and/or faster delivery to the final destination. There are three general types of remail: ABA, ABC, ABB. ABA Remail: A mailer in “Country A” ships mail to “Country B” for mailing back to addresses in “Country A.” ABC Remail: A mailer in “Country A” ships mail to “Country B” for mailing to addresses in “Country C.” ABB Remail: A mailer in “Country A” ships mail to “Country B” for mailing to addresses in “Country B.” (Also called “Direct Entry.”)

REMAIL POINT (HUB/CITY): The city where mail is taken to be remailed – usually because a more favorable rate can be obtained, but sometimes for other reasons, such as faster delivery to nearby destinations.

REMIT: The portion of a sale remitted to a publisher after a subscription agent’s commission is deducted.

RENEWAL AT BIRTH: Also called a collection extension or step-up. An upsell offer, often on the bill for a credit subscription, and usually at a lower price per copy than the original offer. For auditing purposes, not to be counted as separate subscriptions if the transaction takes place within 60 days of the date of original order.

RENEWAL INCENTIVE: A premium that is offered in a billing effort as an extra incentive to pay for the renewal.

RENEWAL RATE: Number of renewals sold to a block of expires, divided by the number of expires available for renewal in that block. Expressed as a percentage.

RENEWAL SERIES: A scheduled series of marketing efforts (such as direct mail, telemarketing, email) made to a renew a group of subscribers. Usually starts well before expiration date and generally continues a few months past expiration date.

REQUALIFICATION (REQUAL): Refers to the renewal of controlled-publication subscribers.

REQUEST CIRCULATION: See “Direct Request.”

RETENTION: The circulation function of acquiring and keeping paid subscriptions through renewal marketing promotions and billing efforts.

RETURNS: In single-copy sales, magazines that are distributed but not sold. In many cases, unsold copies are returned to the wholesaler, who processes and records them, issues credit records, shreds the copies, and verifies, by affidavit, that the returns have been destroyed.

RETURN AFFIDAVIT: A document issued by the wholesaler and accepted by the publisher and national distributor in lieu of actual covers of unsold magazines. The affidavit certifies the number of returns and their destruction by the wholesaler.

RETURN OR RESPONSE: See “Gross Response” and “Net Response.”

SAMPLING: Paid magazines sometimes attempt to recruit new subscribers by offering them one or more free trial issues. Samples differ from a forced free trial (see definition) in that they are requested by the prospect and usually involve only one or a few free issues. Free copies added to or included in a subscription term are premiums (see definition), not samples.

SCAN-BASED TRADING: Refers to the practice of basing retail sales figures for magazines solely on the number of sales recorded through checkout scanning, as opposed to the traditional system of returning unsold magazine covers. Also known as Pay-on-Scan or Pay-on-Sale (POS). (Also see “Returns.”)

SECONDARY WHOLESALER: Traditionally, a wholesaler that services retail accounts outside of supermarkets, convenience stores, drug stores and other major, mass-market outlets for magazines. Due to industry consolidation, these wholesalers now service all markets.

SELECTIVE BINDING: The computerized, database-driven binding process that has expanded the economic feasibility of breaking out regional or interest-specific advertising and/or editorial editions of a given issue. Selectively bound, ink-jetted messages are some-times used for subscription promotion and for editorial customization that serves circulation goals, as well as for advertising messages.

SELF-MAILER: A piece of promotion mail that is not enclosed in an envelope and is designed so that a portion of it can be used for a reply. A double postcard is one type of self-mailer. (See the Domestic Mail Manual, “Reusable Mail Pieces.”)

SELL-THROUGH: Also called “efficiency” or “efficiency level.” The percentage of distributed newsstand copies that were actually sold. Average sell-through for the industry has fallen to about 36 percent, compared to 55 percent in the mid-’80s and nearly 49 percent in 1989.

SINGLE-COPY SALES: Also called “newsstand sales.” Single copies of magazines sold at retail. Most single-copy sales are made in supermarkets and other mass retail outlets. Many publishers also distribute through specialty stores.

SHRINK: The difference between beginning and ending inventory that can’t be accounted for through sales and delivery records. Magazine issues that cannot be accounted for as sold or returned and destroyed are labeled “shrink.” The issue of how much if any of the costs associated with shrink should be absorbed by the publisher versus the retailer (who currently absorbs these costs) is a source of contention between the two parties. (See “Scan-Based Trading.”)

SOFT OFFER: A subscription offer that states or implies that you may receive the first issue without obligation and may discontinue the subscription without payment by writing “cancel” on the first invoice and returning it.

SOURCE: The channel of sale that produced a subscription, or the single-copy sales channel. On circulation reports, the source is shown either by key (see definition) or agency designation. “Source” includes both mini-source (individual keys) and maxi-source (keys grouped together in a planned way).

SOURCE EVALUATION: A mathematical study of new subscriptions sold through a given source, and their conversion and renewals over the years, to determine the true profit per net paid unit of circulation. This allows for comparing and assessing the relative volume and profitability of various sources. It is one of the main uses for models.

SPONSOR SALES: Sales by agents, often by telephone, in which a charity or civic association gets a portion of the commission in return for use of its name. On the business side, a company may purchase bulk subs to give to clients.

STAMPSHEET AGENCIES: See “Direct Mail Agency.”

STANDARD MAIL: The U.S. Postal Service’s Standard Mail category includes Standard A and Standard B. Standard A is the subclass generally used by large-volume direct mailers, although some magazine circulation promotions are sent by First Class. Standard B is the rates and classifications subcategory used for books and parcels.

START: To commence service on a subscription, or a subscription that starts.

SUBSCRIPTION COUNT: Since a subscriber may have more than one subscription, a subscription (or label) count will usually be larger than a subscriber count.

SUPPRESSION FILE: File made up of names of people who have indicated that they do not want to receive direct marketing offers, or people whom a marketer has identified as undesirable prospects for a direct marketing effort. The Direct Marketing Association offers three suppression services for con-sumers: the Mail Preference Service, the Telephone Preference Service, and the Email Preference Service. Also, most individual marketers now offer customers the option of having their names excluded from list rentals and email promotions. (See “Opt Out” and “Opt In.”)

SURFACE AIR LIFT (SAL): Mail transported by air to a distribution city, where it is deposited into the mail stream for final delivery via surface mail.

TELEMARKETING: Selling subscriptions by telephone solicitation, either in out-going (“cold calling”) or incoming calls. In some cases, prospects respond by phone to a DRTV (see definition) or other sub promotion, or are “up-sold” a magazine subscription when they call in for customer service or call a third party (such as a cataloger) to order merchandise.

TERMINAL DUES: The fees postal administrations of various countries pay one another for handling international mail.

‘TILL FORBID: See “Continuous Service.”

TIP-ON: A single-sheet subscription renewal or new-business promotion glued or affixed to the front of a subscriber or sample copy. Less costly than a wrap. Used most heavily by controlled titles, but also increasingly common among paid titles.

UNIVERSAL POSTAL UNION (UPU): An international congress that meets every five years to determine terminal dues (see definition) and other matters affecting mail exchanged among various countries.

UPC (UNIVERSAL PRODUCT CODE): The barcode on products that allows retailers to automatically record the sale of those products. Magazines are assigned a unique number (a “BIPAD,” after the Bureau of Independent Publishers and Distributors – see definition), which is the last five digits of the UPC. The number allows retail scanners to automatically input a magazine’s price and allows wholesaler equipment to identify the publication sold and process returns.

VOUCHER PACKAGE: An inexpensive direct mail format that touts a heavily discounted introductory subscription offer (ostensibly made because of a prospect’s professional or “special” status – hence the term “professional discount package”).

WHITE MAIL: Unsolicited subscription orders or letters.

WHOLE-COPY CLAIM FORM (WCC): Claim form submitted by a wholesaler in place of actual magazine headings or affidavit. This procedure is used when a wholesaler is instructed to return whole copies or when whole copies are to be used for promotion purposes.

WHOLESALER: The companies that physically distribute magazines to single-copy retail outlets, process returns and engage in marketing and in-store service. Wholesalers once served specific geographic territories. But due to retail chains’ insistence, one or two major wholesalers are now responsible for magazine distribution to an entire retail chain, however geographically far-flung.

WITHHOLDS: Shipped single copies that never reach the racks. Wholesalers sometimes withhold copies, cut allotments and return the remainder because they believe they are being oversupplied with a given title, or because a retail outlet will accept only a portion of its allotment.

WORK-SHARING: Drop-shipping (see definition), sorting and bundling magazines or mail to reduce the work required by the U.S. Postal Service and thereby qualify for lower postage rates.

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