Google’s AMP Will Make the Mobile Internet Faster Early Next Year
Google said this morning that it will begin integrating AMP—short for Accelerated Mobile Pages—into search results as early as February. First announced in October, AMP is the company’s open source effort to improve the way we consume content in browsers and other apps on our phones by serving up more streamlined web pages, especially from publishers.
The project is in part Google’s answer to Facebook’s Instant Articles, which launched earlier this year. As phones become the main way people access the Internet, several tech giants have been looking at how to make the web work better on mobile devices. Google says that 40 percent of users will abandon any website that takes more than 3 seconds to load. Mobile pages often take at least 8 seconds to load.
The driving idea behind AMP is to cut the loading time for web pages to a duration users will tolerate. And Google says it’s seen success. In tests, Pinterest, for example, has found that AMP pages load 4 times faster.
“We see this trend around people consuming content in distributed ways,” says Google’s Rudy Galfi, the AMP product manager. “People aren’t coming in through the homepage as much as they’re coming in through social media apps, like Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest, or they’re coming in through something like Google.
“The way we thought about building AMP is also how can we help publishers thrive in this environment?”
No Need to Block
While Facebook’s Instant Articles hosts publishers’ content on Facebook, keeping the speedy version walled off from the open web, Google’s tool is designed to operate anywhere online. The company said today that it is working with Twitter and Pinterest as well as publishers to figure out how best to tweak AMP for their needs. Twitter will being experimenting with links to AMP-powered pages early next year.
As with Facebook’s Instant Articles, Google’s AMP project raises questions about how new publishing tech can influence what gets seen and read. Google says its search engine, for example, may prioritize AMP-primed pages, since speed is among the signals favored by Google’s ranking system. “One of the things AMP gives you is it’s a predictable, fast experience,” Galfi says. “Speed is a very important factor.”
The AMP project may also begin to change mobile standards for ads on our phones. The company says that ads will be supported by AMP pages and that publishers will have control over their ads. However, AMP will not allow “interstitials,” the pesky pop-ups that you often see interrupting your day when you click over to certain publishers’ web pages. “We don’t have a lot of opinions about what ads can do, but we definitely don’t want them to obscure content,” says Malte Ubl, AMP’s technical lead.
“It’s too early to say what the impact on monetization will be,” Ubl adds, though the company seems hopeful that more people will read the articles to compensate for any lost revenue from any limitations on ads. Galfi adds that ad-blocking, which has become increasingly popular this year, is a symptom of this problem. If Google can make pages load faster without the need for an ad blocker to curb interstitials, users might be less likely to resort to ad blockers—or so the logic goes.