21 ABC member publications shows increased distribution higher than 10%.

The ABC results for Quarter One, 2023, are out, and with all the doom and gloom, not to mention Cape Town weather arriving in Johannesburg, we need some good news this season. Therefore I have shaped this report on the positive highlights of the distribution numbers. Although distribution has not recovered to pre-Covid numbers, we are sometimes exceeding it.

Looking positive overall is the remarkable growth of 21 member publications. These publications reported increases in their distribution above ten percent. There were only 11 publications that declined in circulation by more than ten percent.

While the economic pinch feels more like a vice-grip, the ABC members’ positive news (no pun intended) should definitely also include our longstanding hero category, Free Newspapers (aka Communities). Except for one quarter, this category has increased every quarter since 2020.

There is also a slight improvement in the Newspaper category from Quarter Four, 2022, to Quarter One, 2023. The year-on-year decline of only 0.8% is encouraging for the category as a whole. The overall Quarter-on-Quarter newspaper category distribution increased by 0,35% Are we going to see Daily and Weekly newspapers migrating more and more to a hybrid business model? Is this a possible untapped area? Well, we will have to wait and see. In the meantime, Weekly Newspaper distribution although still in decline, appears to be levelling.

A further positive signal is that the Consumer Magazine category may have reached a valley as the decline appears to be flattening out.

Digital Magazines distribution increased Year-on-Year from 125 912 to 350 543.

Free magazines distribution not only increased Year-on-Year but also Quarter on Quarter from 94 299 to 95 557.

The frequency of reporting in the Custom Magazine category results in a volatile appearance of distribution numbers.

The overall member distribution decline Year-on-Year for magazines and Newspapers is less than two percent.

The positive news from a membership point of view is the addition of 6 Grassroots members.

As marketers are increasing the channels they use to connect to audiences dramatically, distribution of publications may very well be on an upward trajectory. Let’s keep a close eye on this. The ABC remains the stamp of measurement and trust in providing transparent and accurate distribution data to all marketers, media houses and advertisers who are accountable for marketing and advertising spend in their companies and to their clients.

If you are responsible for your brand’s advertising spend, engage with the print, digital and e-mail publications teams you work, and discuss the ABC membership certificates with them, to align distribution numbers with your strategy. Visit www.abc.org.za for more information.

Celéste Burger – President – ABC


The Audit Bureau of Circulation (ABC) is a non-profit company. The primary function of the ABC is the certification and provision of accurate and comparable circulation figures of printed (magazines and newspapers) and digital data (digital publications, email newsletter circulation and website traffic) as well as attendance at exhibitions and conferences. This is achieved through auditing standards, on the certificates and on the reports submitted. The ABC’s transparent and accurate data assists advertisers, marketers and publishers in the accountable decision-making of buying and selling of advertising and promotional material.


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