Periodicals postage advertising standards, measurement

With the advent of the new Marked Copy Alternate Process, some corollary questions about advertising and non-advertising measurement have arisen.

Advertising measurement of newspapers is only required to compute higher, zoned pound rates on ad matter by distance outside the county, and allows lower, unzoned rates for all editorial matter. Rules concerning ad measurement are shared below, with updated citations from the U.S. Postal Service Domestic Mail Manual and Customer Support Rulings.

Advertising includes:
A. “All material for the publication of which a valuable consideration is paid, accepted, or promised, that calls attention to something to get people to buy it, sell it, seek it, or support it.
B. “Reading matter or other material for the publication of which an advertising price is charged.
C. “Articles, items, and notices in the form of reading matter inserted by custom or understanding that textual matter is to be inserted for the advertiser or the advertiser’s products in the publication in which a display advertisement appears.
D. “A newspaper’s or periodical’s advertisement (house ads) of its own services or issues, or any other business of the publisher, whether in display advertising or reading matter.”

“The term public service announcement means any announcement (or ad) for which no valuable consideration is received by the publisher, which does not include any material related to the business interests of the publisher, and which promotes programs, activities, or services of federal, state, or local governments or of nonprofit organizations, or matters generally regarded as in the public interest. A public service announcement is not treated as advertising.”

“The total advertising and non-advertising portions may be determined by column inches, square inches, pages, or by another recognized unit of measure if the same unit of measure is used for both portions. (Newspapers cannot be forced to use a certain method.)
“One full page of advertising must equal one full page of non-advertising regardless of the amount of blank space between each article on a page. If measured in column inches, non-advertising inches are determined by subtracting the total advertising inches from the total column inches of the publication.
“A blank page, portion of a page, or blank border or margin is counted as advertising if consideration was received for the whole page, the blank portion, or the blank border or margin. The border of a page is otherwise considered neither advertising nor nonadvertising and is not measured. When measuring nonrectangular sheets (such as some supplements), the measurement is based on the smallest rectangle that could contain the irregular sheet; exact measurement is not attempted.”
Most newspapers use column-inch measurement. For instance, a 20-page paper might contain 2,580 total inches of space (six columns X 21.5 inches X 20 pages = 2,580 inches). If the advertising units measured 1,565 inches, 1,565 divided by 2,580 equals 60.66 percent.

Percentage of Advertising
The percentage of advertising shown on the postage statement must be based on the marked copy of the corresponding issue or edition. If necessary, round off the computed percentage of advertising to two decimal places. Round up numbers five and up, round down four and below.

Weight Per Copy (DMM
To determine the weight per copy, select and weigh a random sample of 10 or more copies and divide the total sample weight by the number of pieces in the sample. Express the weight per copy in decimal pounds rounded off to four decimal places.

What about white space?
CSR PS-12 states “the border of a page, space between columns, and space between advertisements are neither advertising matter nor matter other than advertising.”
PS-12 also rules that “In determining the advertising and nonadvertising percentages, one full page of advertising material must equal the same measurement as one full page of news content.” In other words, if one page of all news counts as 129 inches, one page of all advertising will count as 129 inches, even if there are a variety of ad sizes on the page. This is true “regardless of the amount of blank spaces between each advertisement on a page … .”

What about page headings?
Headers that accompany ad matter are advertising. Likewise, headers accompanying news matter are nonadvertising (CSR PS-143). An advertising index is considered advertising (CSR PS-251)

How do we measure pages with varying columns?
Some papers convert eight-column classified pages to six-column pages (172 inches to 129 inches) for consistency in measurement. You could follow this practice for tab sections with 4 or 5 columns per page versus broadsheet pages with six columns per page.
It is acceptable to measure inches on tabloid pages as the number of inches times the height (five columns by 12 inches = 60 inches, rather than half of 129 inches, or 64.5 inches). This measure slightly overstates the ad percentage, however.

How about advertising supplements of various widths?
With the broadsheet or tabloid newspaper open to the two pages that show standard columns, open the supplement with its spine nested inside the broadsheet centerfold. Match the printed width of the ad supplement to the closest number of columns (typically four or five) that it approximates. For example, an eight-page tab whose ad matter measured closest to four columns wide, with 10 vertical inches, would contain 40 inches per page. That would be 320 inches added to the total column inches in the newspaper, then 320 inches added to the advertising matter. © Max heath 2017

MAX HEATH, NNA postal chair, is a consultant for NNA members and Landmark Community Newspapers. He is sponsored by Interlink Software. Email