It was founded on 14 October 1931 by ISBA to provide an independent verification of circulation/data figures to facilitate the buying and selling of advertising space within UK national newspapers.
In 2009 the organisation reviewed how their figures reflected bulk sales, which were often given away for free.  The circulation of six national newspapers were adjusted as a consequence.  In 2011, ABC's online and print divisions were merged.  In February 2014, ABC published combined print and digital magazine circulation figures for the first time. 
ABC is governed by a board consisting of advertisers, media agencies, media owners and trade bodies. They represent the differing interests of the media industry, agree new standards and make strategic decisions as to how ABC is run.
ABC UK is a founder member of the International Federation of ABC (IFABC). Richard Foan, Group Executive Director of Communication & Innovation, ABC UK, also chairs the IFABC Web Standards Group, which works to deliver global standards and establish digital good practice across the world.