AMP is already five years old, but there is still some apathy among publishers towards adopting the framework. This reluctance means many are missing out on the opportunity to offer a faster, more engaging user experience, resulting in better quality traffic, higher CPMs, and ultimately increased advertising revenue.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at where AMP is today, its benefits, and how it can be monetised.
What is AMP?
AMP was originally an acronym for Accelerated Mobile Pages, an open-source framework created by Google in 2015 to enable the development of user-friendly mobile webpages using a stripped-down version of HTML that is lightweight and easy to work with. As the project introduced new features and applications, its scope expanded beyond mobile and last year it became known simply as AMP.
The framework can be used to build desktop versions of a website as well as mobile ones – although they aren’t technically labelled as AMP – so if publishers are able to work within the framework’s capabilities they can use it to build their entire website.
How AMP benefits publishers
But there are other benefits of AMP too, notably in reaching new audiences through SEO and additional opportunities for exposure. Although Google maintains AMP is not a major ranking factor impacting the search engine results page (SERP), there are clear examples of the search engine working in favour of the mobile-friendly format. It’s much harder to build webpages with the same loading speed without AMP, than with it. Pages with faster loading speeds appear higher in the SERPs, so it stands to reason AMP would have a positive impact and why Google top-ranking pages are often AMP ones.
In addition, AMP provides further opportunities for publishers to reach and engage audiences, such as the ‘top stories’ section of mobile SERPs. This is dominated by AMP articles, displayed in a carousel that users can swipe through, encouraging browsing and content discovery; the user-friendly swipe function doesn’t work when non-AMP articles are featured. AMP can also be used in email marketing, allowing publishers to make emails to subscribers more reflective of their websites through interactive elements such as carousels, forms, accordions and event invitations, helping to convert email readers to website visitors.
AMP is very simple to implement; for WordPress publishers converting existing articles is as easy as installing a plugin. It’s also free and – as an open source initiative that came out of discussions between tech companies and publishers – there are a group of people continually working to improve the ecosystem for everyone.
A push on Google’s side for publishers to adopt AMP is resulting in new features to improve accessibility. First the allowable CSS limit was increased to 75kb to enable publishers to create more interactive and engaging experiences. Secondly, AMP Optimizer 2.0 was released to make it simpler to create pages with increased loading speed through server-side rendering optimisations. Finally, for web developers that use Next.js, there is the ability to turn a React site into an AMP site via a single line of code, enabling subsequent integration with AMP Optimizer 2.0.
The goal of AMP is to make the user experience as engaging, fast, and friction free as possible, so naturally it can be used to build ads that are as responsive and fast as the pages they are loading on. Changing the way ads are built, delivered and measured can have a very positive impact on monetisation, with increased viewability, better click through rates, and higher CPMs.
Display ads can be served by adding the <amp-ad> tag to an AMP page, and there are more than 100 ad networks supported. The most common ad server is Google Ad Manager so most publishers will already be familiar with the set up. As AMP is a Google initiative, pages inevitably work better with Google advertising products. At the start of the project it was a closed ecosystem so publishers were restricted to products such as Google AdSense and Ad Exchange but there are now other options available for monetising AMP pages and these are continually increasing.
AMP has a variety of components and features available to assist publishers with monetisation. These include Fast Fetch, which separates the ad request from the content to enable faster loading. Real Time Config, or RTC, is a feature of Fast Fetch that allows publishers to augment ad requests with targeting data, but it only allows them to call a maximum of five demand partners for each ad slot. Integrating a header bidding wrapper with RTC is one way to get around this limitation and open up requests to the 7-10 demand partners required to find the optimal combination and generate maximum CPMs. AMP also enables auto refresh for Fast Fetch ads – at a minimum of 30 second intervals – although this is not compatible with Single Request Architecture (SRA).
Is AMP worth it?
AMP can bring impressive results both in enhancing the user experience and significantly increasing publisher CPMs, but the impact does vary greatly by website, so it is difficult to predict the kind of results a publisher should expect. There may also be certain drawbacks such as dilution of brand identity due to the stripping down of pages to essential components, or the dependence on a relatively shallow demand pool while monetisation options continue to expand. But as AMP is simple to implement and has virtually no cost to publishers in the long term, it is well worth experimenting with to see where improvements can be made.
With the need to provide a quick, engaging, and friction free user experience high on the priority list, publishers should test AMP to see how it can positively impact their businesses. In addition to speeding up load times and keeping viewers happy, they can benefit from greater audience reach and engagement and drive revenue through increased CPMs. Five years into the AMP project, it is time for publishers to give it a try.
By Ivan Ivanov
PubGalaxy is a publisher-centric monetization platform that leverages the capabilities of the entire RTB ecosystem and traditional demand to help premium publishers drive consistent uplift in ad revenue, ensure superior ad quality and deliver exceptional user experience. Now with over 100 employees and offices in central Europe, London and New York, it is the trusted monetization partner to more than 100 of the world’s premium publishers including Dealmoon, Gsmarena, Fotor, Xda-developers, Programiz, Photopea, ChinaGate, Wccftech, and Fontsquirrel.