It’s been more than eight months since Google launched its Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) Project. Has it lived up to its promise to make the web fast and compelling?

The answer, of course, depends on who you ask.

But Rudy Galfi, product manager for the AMP Project at Google, couldn't be any more enthusiastic: "Since its launch at the end of last year, the engagement from people across the industry has been incredible," he wrote in a recent blog post.

Craig DiNatali, director of Global Partnerships at Google and Nitin Kashyap, a product manager at Google, said the project has received positive feedback from a number of publishers with varying mobile web advertising business models. They described it as a "promising start."

What's AMP?

An open-source initiative aimed at improving page load performance on mobile devices, AMPs are essentially HTML pages with a set of specific web protocols. These mainly consist of a set of HTML custom elements, a JavaScript library and a content delivery network (CDN) for caching pages.

Twitter, Pinterest, WordPress.com, Chartbeat, Parse.ly, Adobe Analytics and LinkedIn were among the first group of technology partners to integrate AMP HTML pages when the project launched last October. Countless other organizations worldwide quickly followed.

After all, not adhering to the standard means getting left behind in Google search results, which is based on an algorithm that favors sites that load faster.

According to recent comparisons of ad performance on AMP and non-AMP mobile pages, more than 80 percent of publishers realizing higher viewability rates, more than 90 percent drive greater engagement with higher click-through rates and the majority of the publishers seeing higher advertising revenue per 1,000 impressions (eCPMs).

The findings are based on analysis of 150 publishers (large and small in different geographic regions).

The AMP Roadmap

Galfi conceded, "It can be tricky to stay fully up to date on AMP." So late last month the AMP Project team released an AMP Roadmap to help get everyone on the same page. Designed to help users understand the project’s status and direction at a glance, it provides information relating to AMP’s four main focus areas: Format, Analytics, Ads and Access.

For each area, three sections summarize what you need to know:

  • Themes include high-level goals and feature plans
  • Status offers a listing of the largest planned projects and their progress
  • The outlook offers a summary of some of the projects being considered and what is likely to get attention in the next six months

The AMP Roadmap will be updated twice each quarter.

This month, Google also announced it expects to launch support for new AMP ad types, including Sticky Ads, "greater viewability without sacrificing user experience," and Flying Carpet Ads, which offer a large canvas for immersive, fast ad experiences.

The Impact on Business

AMP is still in its infancy and publishers report mixed results. Some report seeing better search traffic but others still wonder about how AMP fits into their larger business strategy.

Jonathan Abrams is founder and CEO of Nuzzel, a San Francisco-based social news startup that focuses on easy-to-share content people can send to friends. It was one of the early AMP adopters.

“We've gotten good feedback,” Abrams told CMSWire. “There have been a few growing pains as some publishers have had bugs in their AMP implementations, but this seems to be stabilizing recently.”

Toronto-based theScore produces a personalized sports app. Jonathan Savage, senior VP of product, said the company has been implementing AMP on theScore.com and theScoreesports.com.

While a large portion of traffic comes from mobile apps and social media referrals, “there hasn't been a tangible impact on [the] business,” Savage said.

“However, the objective of being early on Google AMP was to ensure that all the great sports news content being produced by our team was being surfaced as easily as possible on mobile web. Developing for Google AMP was a relatively straightforward process with minimal development work required on our end. It does feel like the AMP project is still very early, so what will be interesting is to see how Google evolves this over time.”

Savage hasn't heard anything directly from consumers, which he views as a good thing.

“It suggests the experience and switch to this format has largely been seamless. Ultimately, every brand and publishers wants to explore new ways to ensure their content has a greater chance of being discovered, and Google AMP is certainly another way of doing this,” he said.

Better Performance and Engagement

chartbeat screenshot

Sandra Baez, SVP of advertising solutions at Scottsdale, Ariz.-based SheKnows Media, a women’s lifestyle platform, reported a higher bounce rate and exit rate on AMP pages compared to non-AMP pages.

“Although when they stay, the AMP readers spend more time," she added.

Baez complained that there was insufficient documentation and support for the project for early adopters.

“Currently it seems they’re doing a better job of documenting the process. There were a few concerns around monetization of the inventory through third-party vendors that use JavaScript, but the impact on the page views have not impressed me enough to create a big dent in our revenue,” she said.

Chartbeat, a New York City-based analytics company, was an inaugural analytics partner to both AMP and Facebook’s Instant Articles. Data Scientist and AMP Lead Chris Breaux found rolling out data tools for their publishing clients a “successful” process.

“A number of our clients are using AMP and/or Instant Article pages, and we continue to see traffic attributed to both grow,” he said.

Breaux reports seeing a little more than 1 percent of mobile traffic sourced from AMP across Chartbeat’s network. Out of the top 10 domains using AMP, the traffic increases to about 3 percent, he said.

“We expect these numbers to grow as Google continues to roll out its support and as more of our clients adopt this site experience.”

“We see pages loading at a significantly faster rate on average, around 2 seconds per AMP page, which is a huge win for bettering reader experience on a mobile platform.”

For organizations like Chartbeat, where business surrounds measuring how readers engage with content, integrating AMP reporting seems to provide another way to drill down the numbers.

What About Video?

AMP rolled out as top stories in Google News, and Google is still implementing new content formats. Google reported in May that it plans to add local listings, product listings and recipes.

Andrew Broadstone, director of product management at Boston-based Brightcove, focuses on video player technology and believes integrating AMP has “made a positive impact” on their customers’ business. For them, faster content and videos means more eyes.

“Better mobile performance is critical to improving video engagement for publishers, and AMP has been a great way to improve load times on mobile devices,” Broadstone said.

“With better performance, users watch more video, have a much better experience and stay longer on customer sites. Our customers also love that using AMP ensures that videos are easy to find using Google mobile search.”

“By including the Brightcove AMP component in their pages, publishers get the benefits of AMP without any custom code,” he said.

Defeating Ad Blockers

Hussain Rahim, director of product marketing at Palo Alto, Calif.-based PubMatic, said AMP offers an added benefit: a way to work around ad blockers.

“It’s an important initiative to solve the issue of mobile website performance and prevent the major drivers of ad blocking. However, AMP is still in the early innings and publishers are currently only seeing a single digit percentage of traffic from AMP pages,” Rahim said.

As more people install ad blockers, load times have slowed and publishers cannot make the same dollars from online ads. Improving the load speed on mobile devices will ideally bring readers back and discourage the need for ad blockers when sites work and look better.

“The advertising elements of AMP are now receiving more attention and priority, as the viability of the project had to be proven out to publishers. We’re looking forward to the advanced creative and format options coming to the AMP project,” he continued.

“The whole web, both mobile and desktop would benefit from being as responsive and user-centric as possible.”