LONDON: Media owners in the UK are seeking to enhance their digital capabilities and form an increasingly diverse range of partnerships across various sectors.

The Association of Online Publishers, the trade body, polled its membership base – which includes leading broadcasters as well as newspaper and magazine publishers – to gauge current tactics.

It discovered that 79% of the sample expected their digital portfolios to expand during 2012, whereas only 3% anticipated undertaking a degree of "rationalisation" in this area.

Moreover, 86% of companies are due to roll out new products in their existing areas of expertise this year, and 35% want to tap new sectors, with tablets and smartphones attracting the most attention.

Paid content is also growing in strategic importance, as 68% of firms are "likely" to add greater fee-based components to their product rosters in 2012, up from 63% last year.

Elsewhere, 72% of organisations are looking to establish tie-ups with other media owners, and a third an interest in acquisitions.

"Publishers are coming together to understand how they can work collaboratively," Lee Baker, director of the AOP, said. "We are seeing more of that on a much more sophisticated level ... Lots of businesses are simultaneously moving into very, very new territory, which is driving this approach."

A further 84% of respondents agreed in-house expenditure on technology would rise this year, with almost all the featured corporations heightening their outlay on apps and mobile.

Meanwhile, 73% of enterprises will allocate more resources to programmes augmenting their data capabilities, matching the score recorded by video, both witnessing double-digit increases year on year.

Forming alliance with technology companies, especially surrounding apps and tablets, was mentioned by 70% of participants, standing at 60% for video and data systems.

Upon assessing their core challenges, 53% of interviewees pointed to accessing unexploited revenue streams and 42% cited creating new products and making the best use of data.

Exactly 66% of publishers expect to hire more digital staff this year, while 52% intend to boost headcounts linked to database and data analysis tasks. The same number planned to recruit employees specialising in apps, as did 48% for mobile.

Data sourced from Association of Online Publishers/Financial Times; additional content by Warc staff