The Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) project seems to be progressing nicely.
Google has recently revealed integrations with Tag Manager, A/B testing in Analytics, long-awaited form elements are now possible (e.g. email fields), and there’s a continuing roadmap of features.
For the uninitiated, here is a digested list of AMP’s pros and cons.
Oh, and if you want a very quick intro beforehand, I wrote one earlier this year.
Wringing value out of AMP ads could be a slow process
The Wall Street Journal recently reported grumblings from some anonyomous figures in news publishing who say that AMP pages generate half as much value for publishers.
It is true, of course, that the AMP HTML format does not allow popup ads and the like (that’s the whole point), or some other customised formats that publishers have in place.
Although I think it is justifiable to include this point as a con, one could argue that Google has rapidly expanded the functionality of AMP ads.
A recent blog post from AMP at the end of October serves as a suitable riposte – 70 ad tech providers have integrated with AMP, video and custom ad formats are supported, and there’s more on the way.
Incidentally, The Washington Post has said that it generates the same revenue on AMP pages as full mobile website pages.
AMP isn’t exactly easy to implement
It’s the nature of the beast that AMP is a restrictive framework. The implementation effort is not something to be underestimated.
Yes, the gains can be impressive but some believe that improving the performance of your standard HTML web pages should be higher priority.
Simply put, those implementing AMP are likely to be those that already focus on performance optimisation.
AMP offers limited functionality
AMP is evolving quickly, with rudimentary forms now possible and Disqus integration happening earlier this year. However, it’s fairly obvious that product pages are a way off, for example (despite pioneering work by eBay).
There is also some third-party software that many webmasters decide they can’t do without. This is a value judgment one has to make, but if data capture, conversion or tracking is compromised, AMP may be a bridge too far, particularly for some smaller publishers.
Incredibly good distribution
Google AMP results show up prominently in the mobile search carousel. Of course, this results in increased traffic.
It also adds some undoubted cachet, given that at this early stage of AMP, your content may easily leap above that of your competitors and occupy this large area of the mobile SERPs.
More new and returning visitors
The stats offered on a recent Google AMP blog post are pretty amazing:
- Washington Post — 23% increase in mobile search users who return within seven days.
- Slate — 44% increase in monthly unique visitors and a 73% increase in visits per monthly unique visitor.
- Gizmodo — 80% of Gizmodo’s traffic from AMP pages is new traffic, 50% increase in impressions.
Higher clickthrough rates
Wired has apparently seen a 25% increase in click through rates (CTR) from mobile search results, with CTR on ads in AMP stories up by 63%.
Though some haven’t yet got to grips with AMP ads, it’s easy to envisage how AMP can increase ad performance (both search and display) if users are more inclined to click.
A DoubleClick study of 150 publishers in 2016 found more than 80% realized higher ad viewability rates on AMP pages compared to non-AMP.
So, though those aforementioned publishers may be unhappy with returns, it’s clear that simplified and more secure webpages are better able to deliver advertising to human eyeballs.
Page speed has increased in importance as a ranking factor over 2016.
Google’s second mobile-friendly update rolled out in May 2016, and Gary Ilyes recently announced that a separate (and primary) mobile index will soon launch.
This means quick pages and AMP pages in particular should see a continued boost in search ranking.
Traffic is growing
Those publishers that have implemented AMP are seeing increasing traffic. This is likely to be linked to Google’s increasing surfacing of AMP pages, alongside users becoming better educated.
Search Engine Watch reports that Alex Wellen of CNN states 20% of CNN’s search traffic now goes to the news outlet’s AMP pages, and AMP traffic has increased by 80% in the past two months.
A free CDN
Part of Google AMP’s success in speeding up pages comes from Google’s caching of AMP content. Publishers can modify URLs to serve content directly from the Google AMP Cache (making it quicker).
This is effectively a free CDN (content delivery network). Many publishers will already use another CDN, but for others, this is worth taking advantage of.
New tools help with implementation
Though we have stressed the level of difficulty of implementing AMP – not something to be undertaken on a whim – there have been more tools released by Google to help.
A new testing tool makes it easier to test and debug AMP pages, avoiding doubt about correct implementation.
Other tools include an AMP validator browser extension, and a WordPress plugin.
Some of these pros are beating around the bush a bit. The end goal is of course to improve page speed and user experience. Traffic etc. will follow.
It’s important to keep hitting the UX drum because AMP’s attempted ‘reset’ of web design could be the most powerful weapon in the fight against crap advertising.
Clean, readable mobile pages, with simple and impactful advertising formats that customers tolerate (perhaps even welcome?) is what it’s all about – whatever model a publisher adopts.