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As a new publication,there are several things you will want to do in order to establish your magazine in the marketplace. Managing your clients (subscribers) and tracking your circulation revenue and expenses are certainly already part of your business objectives.

Recording your progress diligently will get you everywhere when preparing for circulation auditing,while at the same time maximizing your profitability. As you read through the following basic requirements for a successful audit,you should recognize that circulation auditing is little more than an extra set of practiced,verifying eyes upon the foundation question which you already want to establish as true:

Is my house in order?

One critical aspect of a tidy "home" is an accurate and detailed subscriber (or mailing) list of publication recipients in electronic format. This should stand as a single,comprehensive listing of all mail distribution.

For auditing purposes,a copy of your mailing list is reviewed,and all recorded data (e.g.,type of recipient,geographic breakdown,term of subscription) is analyzed. Having the appropriate fields and codes in your electronic record or database will make auditing go much smoother.

Some publications choose to manage fulfillment (i.e.,lists and mailing) in-house with software specifically designed for list management,while others prefer to use a contract fulfillment company that manages lists and mailing for them. It is useful to consult with your circulation auditing company before determining how you will manage your mailing/subscriber list.

Subscriber Card

Subscriber information should be kept for three years from subscription start dates (or until  subscriptions are renewed). Keeping accurate subscription records helps to prove paid circulation which you can then show to the U.S. Postal Service to receive discounted mailing rates. Subscriptions may be tracked as traditional subscriber cards,but e-mail records,Internet filings,and telephone calls are also acceptable (with specific rules for each).

It really is all about maintenance. Nothing more. Keep in mind that there are different maintenance needs for tracking other types of circulation,such as:

1) single-copy sales (newsstand sales),
2) bulk distribution (target and rack),and
3) nonqualified circulation (trade show,special event distribution).

All three types of circulated copies require details of the distribution as well as proof of payment. Other requirements may include:

— documents indicating quantities shipped,returned,delivered,sold,etc.

— distribution agreements and specific distribution locations

— original source lists for supplemental mailings,like lists of members of an association that receive the publication as a membership benefit

— records of all magazines received from the printing source,including those used by salespeople,returns,office copies,and tear sheets

Establishing proof of payment is definitely part of successful circulation management,especially for auditing purposes. You must prove payment for printing,mailing,distribution,retail store sales,newsstand sales,and more.

Basically,any money that exchanges hands must be tracked and documented…

…whether it’s money for the guy driving the truck around to drop locations or money from the folks that print your publication;

…whether it’s money for USPS mailings or money from paid or unpaid individual subscriptions.


Part of USPS Form 3541

So you can see by this quick introduction that you will need to do something other than shout "Our house is in order!" before it is proven so. Yet the publishing,auditing,and advertising industries have been kind enough to establish guidelines of proven home beautification that your publication will be able to abide by if you are already in the business of running a solid business.

Please contact Verified Audit Circulation at (415) 461-6006 for further questions about documentation and procedures required for your audit.

2005 Verified Audit Circulation.
Building Confidence in Advertising for More Than 50 Years.