Do Publishers Face Risks By Adopting Google AMP?

Google AMP (short for accelerated mobile pages) takes mobile websites and reformats them to load faster. It prioritizes loading of text and images first, pushing JavaScript to load last. Google has said it will only include ad formats that “do not detract from the user experience,” adding it will be “engaged in crafting Sustainable Ad Practices to insure that ads in AMP files are fast, safe, compelling and effective for users.”

This is good news without question for users, who today put up with consistently slow load times for mobile content. And there is good news for publishers too. Publishers who participate with Google AMP will be better ranked in Google search results (because their pages will load faster) and are likely to see increased traffic. There are an abundance of studies demonstrating that faster pages lead to higher consumption.

But publishers might be concerned about the following issues:

Vendor compatibility. The concern for publishers is that existing vendor technology for the delivery of advertising may no longer function in the new architecture. Google has said that over time it will look to support alternative technology vendors — but in the short term publishers can use Google’s ad delivery tech.  



Consolidation of power with Google. While Google’s intent is good, but it will also make publishers more dependent on the company. This seems like a good way to build more demand for Google ad tech products.

Ad units & standards. To speed up advertising, AMP says it will agree on accepted standards for ad units and will only deliver ads that are “compelling.” Yes, participation in AMP is voluntary, but this hints of consensual censorship. Who will decide what a compelling ad looks like?

What Comes Next

Google has been explicit that AMP is in its beginning stages, not a finished product, and is motivated to improve the experience. The company has aligned broad support for its new initiative, with brand names such as BuzzFeed, The Economist, Gannett, Hearst, Huffington Post, New York Times, and Vox participating. Google is not dictating or using their muscle in a monopolistic way. For example, Google AMP has been set up as an open-source project.

Publishers should keep an open mind while considering Google AMP. Google has signaled it wants active publisher participation, and this is an open source project. By staying involved, media companies will have more say in the outcome. And whatever the concerns are with Google, there is no question that mobile site latency is a growing problem for users. Google’s efforts will – at a minimum – prompt the industry toward a better solution.

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