The percentage of publishers who view tablets as the primary platform for paid content has more than doubled

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A new survey of online publishers in the UK suggests that tablets are now seen as the primary platform for paid content by the majority of UK publishers, overtaking websites for the first time.

The ninth annual Content & Trends Census, carried out by the Association of Online Publishers, found that 42 per cent of publishers viewed the iPad or other tablets as the best opportunity for charging for content, compared to just 19 per cent last year.

Of those surveyed, 35 per cent said the website was the primary platform, down slightly from 38 per cent last year.

The AOP's census received responses from 37 members of the association, who are said to represent more than 1500 publications or brands.

Respondents outlined mobile platforms as one of the main focuses for online publishers in the coming months.

According to a release accompanying the report, eight out of ten publishers have invested in mobile sites, while nine in 10 have optimised their sites for mobile.

However, just 6 per cent currently consider smartphone apps as the primary platform for paid content.

The iPad and other tablets were viewed by 94 per cent of respondents as the best opportunity for digital publishing businesses in the next 12 months.

This was followed by the adoption of smartphones (92%) and mobile web (81 per cent).

In terms of particular payment models, the report claims publishers expect freemium and micro-payments will be adopted more widely in the next year.

"The other strong thread running through this year's Census is the emphasis on mobile devices and the focus on opportunities for publishing via smartphone and tablets," Tim Cain, head of research and insight at AOP, said in a release.

"The Census indicated that four out of ten publishers see mobile internet development and mobile apps as the most significant trend of the next 12 months, and a further 20 per cent believe that leading trend to be specifically in the shape of iPad and other tablets as a platform for digital editions."

The survey also found 86 per cent of its members acknowledged they are "under-utilising" audience data assets.

"AOP members have said they plan to review registration levels to access content and sites, in return for free access to some content," the release added.

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