Google’s AMP Speeds Mobile, But Ad Limits Raise Concerns

A year after Google introduced its Accelerated Mobile Pages, aimed at speeding up content on mobile platforms, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, CNN, Hearst, The Guardian, The Washington Post, Vox Media and many other publishers are using it. But the reviews are mixed, since, with AMP, Google has begun to send users to stripped-down pages rather than to the publisher’s mobile website, and publishers say they are not generating revenue from AMP pages at the same rates as their full mobile sites.

The Wall Street Journal reports that, “multiple publishers said an AMP pageview currently generates around half as much revenue as a pageview on their full mobile websites … largely because of limitations related to the types of ad units AMP pages will allow and the ad technology providers that are currently integrated with the platform.”

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More specifically, with AMP, publishers can’t sell “highly customized ad units, sponsorships or pop-up ads,” and instead rely largely on standardized banner ads. WSJ notes the situation is similar to that “described in the early days of Facebook’s Instant Articles platform.”

Google vice president of news Richard Gingras points out that publishers need to “make full use of the ad tools available to them in AMP” in order to see ad revenues comparable to what they earn on their full mobile sites.

“We want to drive the ecosystem forward, but obviously these things don’t happen overnight,” he said. “The objective of AMP is to have it drive more revenue for publishers than non-AMP pages. We’re not there yet.” Gingras adds that, “a website’s ranking in Google’s search results isn’t impacted by whether it has AMP pages.”

According to WSJ, “publishers who are critical of AMP were reluctant to speak publicly about their frustrations, or to remove their AMP content,” fearful that Google might “turn some knob that hurts the company.” More specifically, some publishers “believe an eventual prioritization of AMP pages is inevitable.”

“Publishers who are not using AMP will probably be penalized,” said SheKnows Media chief executive Philippe Guelton.

Publishers pleased with AMP, “acknowledged the shift in traffic from their full mobile sites to AMP pages, but have a positive outlook on AMP’s ad revenue potential.” CNN chief product officer Alex Wellen reports that more than 20 percent of search now directs to AMP pages, and that, since September, the company had “an 80 percent increase in AMP traffic.” Wellen also notes that the AMP pages “largely monetize at the same rate.”

According to editor-in-chief Nilay Patel, Vox Media’s The Verge has seen its AMP pageviews increase, accounting for 14 percent of all traffic in September. The Washington Post’s director of product Joey Marburger said his publication has seen “some 15 percent of mobile traffic … now directed to AMP pages,” and is generating “approximately the same amount of revenue” as from the full mobile site.