By now you must be aware that mobile is a human’s best friend than bae, unless you just landed from Mars or were hiding below the ocean. While user behavior is driven only by mobile these days, marketers, advertisers and publishers are still struggling to serve their users.
The five inch screen that fits in a user’s pocket easily throws many challenges and one of them is browsing content. Thereafter the challenges thrown at a publisher today are countless. One of them is loading of content which becomes worse depending on the Internet speed. Just yesterday we saw Facebook making its News Feed adaptable to different slower Internet connections.
From the start of the year we have seen social networking giants addressing the problems of publishers. Facebook introduced Instant Articles, Apple came up with Apple News, Twitter recently launched Moments and there is Snapchat with its revamped Discover. The writing is on the wall – social networks no more want to be just the distributor, they want to own the content as well as the users. All this is being done in the name of solving publisher problems.
Search giant Google which was missing in action, has finally made its entry with Accelerated Mobile Page Project. Nicknamed as AMP, it is an open source initiative that aims to dramatically improve the performance of the mobile web. “We want webpages with rich content like video, animations and graphics to work alongside smart ads, and to load instantaneously. We also want the same code to work across multiple platforms and devices so that content can appear everywhere in an instant—no matter what type of phone, tablet or mobile device you’re using.”
Google claims its tools cut down load time between 15 percent and 85 percent in initial tests.
In fact Facebook’s Instant Articles promises to create fast, interactive articles on the social network for publishers. But the biggest difference between Facebook and Google offering is that Facebook’s content remains in the walled garden of the social network. The deal is simple with Facebook – I give the mobile tech, reach and revenue share while the publisher needs to post her content exclusively on my network.
Publishers struggling with the ongoing ad blocking problems, failure to make revenues on mobile have already accepted the deal. Latest one was The Washington Post that has agreed to post every article on Facebook’s Instant Articles. Another 20 new publishers such as Mashable, MTV, Daily Mail/Elite Daily, Business Insider, Hearst, MLB, Complex, among others have decided to sign on the deal with Facebook.
However Google’s AMP is designed for the mobile web specifically with an intention to serve as an open source. The project will help publishers get better engagement on a variety of platforms, including Google search and Twitter, as well as direct readers to publishers’ own sites.
Twitter has joined the AMP initiative as shared on its blog. “AMP aims to dramatically improve the performance of the open mobile web. By providing a new publisher template optimized for speed and predictability, AMP helps web pages with rich content like Tweets and Vines load instantaneously, in any app, including within the Twitter apps for iOS and Android. Based on web technologies, the same code works across all apps, platforms and devices, so your content can be fast wherever your users are.”
The project relies on AMP HTML, a new open framework built entirely out of existing web technologies, which allows websites to build light-weight webpages. Most publishers will likely publish both regular and AMP pages, something that their CMS systems likely will make easy.
In fact, WordPress has already announced a plugin to enable publishing in the format. The plugin will enable WordPress publishers to create AMP versions of posts with a single click. A much needed move from WordPress as not everyone is a big publisher to take advantage of Google’s AMP project.
But wait a minute – isn’t having two copies of the same page a big problem from an SEO perspective? Google hasn’t said there’s anything to worry about and that it apparently will figure out all the right things.
To begin with Google has partnered with technological companies and publishers. Twitter, Pinterest, WordPress.com, Chartbeat, Parse.ly, Adobe Analytics and LinkedIn are among the first group of technology partners planning to integrate AMP HTML pages. Apparently Facebook and Apple will stay out from Google’s open source initiative, as the duo are more interested in attacking its online ad revenues.
Publishers like Vox, The Verge, BuzzFeed and the Washington Post are already live with AMP pages.
AMP is scheduled to roll out more widely in the coming months. Publishers will be responsible for monetizing their own content, selling ads as they already do. Google claims it is not giving higher search rankings to publishers that use its tools, but speed will be a factor in determining where a news article appears in search results.
Over the next few months, Google will be working on the project to build more features and functionality around key areas – Content, Distribution, and Advertising among others.
AMP is a “deal-less environment” according to Google’s head of news Richard Gingras. “This is about the World Wide Web. This is about making sure the World Wide Web is not the World Wide Wait.” The end goal might not be like Facebook but even Google has its own agenda lying deep below the carpet of open source project for mankind.
AMP will take some time to be live but there’s a special version that people can use to see AMP-enabled search. You’ll find that here.