Google’s accelerated mobile pages (AMP) and Facebook Instant Articles were both introduced to dramatically lower the amount of data required to access content via mobile devices, increase the speed of downloads and reduce data charges for consumers. Among other benefits, it was hoped that slimming data consumption for mobile content would help blunt adoption of ad blockers.
A new study from Chartbeat presents evidence: reducing data demands and speeding download times. That appears to have boosted consumer engagement, although the impact on ad blocking remains unclear.
The scale of adoption for AMP is impressive, according to the Chartbeat white paper, which tallied over 900,000 domains producing around 35 million AMP pages per week, accounting for 16% of traffic for publishers that have adopted AMP. Facebook Instant Articles has over 1,000 publishing partners that have produced tens of thousands of pieces using the specialized format every day. They account for 14.8% of all mobile traffic for publishers using Instant Articles.
Virtually all (97%) publishers using IA are also using AMP.
The study also found clear benefits in terms of speed and data consumption. On average, AMP pages load in 1.4 seconds, compared to an overall mobile media average of 5.3 seconds, while Instant Articles loaded essentially instantaneously in 90% of the cases. (So fast, in fact, that Chartbeat couldn’t measure the time required.)
Although issues of correlation and causation remain, it appears faster load times and lower data consumption are boosting consumer engagement with publisher content as hoped, in at least some cases.
Thus, while the industry average for a visit to a mobile site is 36 seconds, that grows to 48 seconds for the average Google AMP page.
Despite these positive results, Chartbeat was quick to acknowledge download times and data consumption aren’t everything. That's reflected in the dissatisfaction voiced by many publishers with Facebook’s Instant Articles in areas including measurement and monetization.
On that note, publishers seem to be having more success with AMP than FIA, with around 1,000 articles consumed via FIA per day, compared to around 3,000 for AMP.
Chartbeat speculated this reflected the longer lifespan of content that is surfaced on Google’s search results, versus the more ephemeral nature of content distributed via Facebook news feeds.