February 15, 2018
Google is taking a step in the direction of Snapchat and Instagram Stories, with new technology for mobile devices that lets users easily create and publish visual-centric stories. Dubbed AMP stories, the technology, to debut first as a developer preview, features swipeable slides of text, photos, graphics and videos. Time Warner’s CNN, Condé Nast, Meredith Corp. and Vox Media were among the publishers that aided in its development. AMP stories does not yet allow advertising, unlike Apple News and Facebook Instant Articles.
The Wall Street Journal reports that, “Google is in the process of building support for ads but didn’t disclose a time frame” and notes that, “the lack of monetization on AMP stories threatens to slow its adoption among publishers” although several plan to experiment with it.
Google product manager Rudy Galfi reveals that, “Google paid publishers to help develop the AMP stories technology” although he would not say how much or if the payments would continue. Hearst Corp., Mashable, Mic and the Washington Post were other publishers involved in its early development.
AMP stories “build on code from its Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) project, a framework that allows publishers to create webpages that load much faster than conventional pages on the mobile web.” The AMP format has been both praised and criticized by publishers who like the “additional traffic from search and speeding up their pages” but also find it “too bare bones to allow for the full spectrum of digital ads, reducing their revenue per page view.”
During this initial developer phase, Google will “monitor reactions” and “consider integrating [the stories] more fully into search, which could eventually lead to a separate section for AMP stories on a Google search results page.” Vox Media chief product officer Joe Alicata states that, “the prospect of additional readership is one incentive to try out the technology.”
The Google Developers Blog describes the AMP story format as “a visual-driven format for evolving news consumption on mobile.” “Images, videos and graphics help publishers to get their readers’ attention as quickly as possible and keep them engaged through immersive and easily consumable visual information,” it said, adding that AMP was designed to “minimize technical challenges and let creators focus on the storytelling.”
“Just like any web page, a publisher hosts an AMP story HTML page on their site and can link to it from any other part of their site to drive discovery,” it added. “And, as with all content in the AMP ecosystem, discovery platforms can employ techniques like pre-renderable pages, optimized video loading and caching to optimize delivery to the end user.”
The AMP story format is “free and open for anyone to use,” and the blog points potential users to the tutorial and documentation. To try it out, the user simply searches for publisher names within g.co/ampstories using her mobile browser.