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Google AMP closes some, opens other mobile advertising opportunities

While early adopters of Google?s Accelerated Mobile Pages project expect a strong presence in mobile search results ? driving reach, consumption and advertising opportunities ? initial challenges include page code restrictions and ad tech redundancies. 

Google AMP, which rolled out in pilot last fall and more broadly this week, is intended to help publishers create faster mobile Web experiences. Content created using the open source initiative, meant to compete with Facbbook?s Instant Articles, is showing up near the top of search results pages under the heading ?Top stories.?

?We're investing a lot of time and resource over the coming year in our mobile strategy to ensure mobile is optimised for our readers,? said Simon Phillips, director of digital product at IBT Media for EMEA. ?AMP is a one of these opportunities that we can use to deliver a great mobile user experience. 

?AMP pages offer a streamlined page that results in an almost instantaneous load for our users and is easy to read,? he said. 

?From a commercial point of view, it also allows us to serve and own 100 percent of our ad inventory. For us that?s a no-brainer.?

Bare essentials
Google AMP strips back the mobile Web page to the bare essentials, caching content and removing JavaScript, thereby vastly increasing page load speed. It launched on Feb. 24, including across IBT Media, the parent company to International Business Times and Newsweek. 

All of the publisher?s news articles for IBTimes ? approximately 187,000 articles ? became available on AMP at launch. Another 200 are being added every day. 

IBT Media, which sees approximately 50 percent of its traffic in Britain on mobile, also recently redesigned its Web sites for International Business Times and Newsweek with a focus on optimizing the user experience for readers.  

IBT Media tested AMP out in Beta and found the user interface to be easy to use and fast. 

?As it only launched on the 24th, we will be monitoring it closely over the coming weeks to see how our users interact with it and how it affects engagement,? Mr. Phillips said. ?We will continue to tweak the content to ensure the best user experience so the user can delve deeper into the content either in related content or discovering new content on our Web site,? he said. 

Quality and speed
Google is also seeing significant traffic on mobile and wants to ensure the user experience is as strong as possible, including that content is delivered quickly. The fact is that as publishers have repurposed content from desktop for mobile, often times the user experience is clunky.

?Research shows that a mere 1 second delay in load time drops page views by 11 percent and customer satisfaction by 16 percent,? said Pratik Rathod, director of product management at Polar Mobile.  

?With AMP, publishers are able to merge quality content with speed, with seamless transitions between content, ads and third party sites all feeding into creating an environment that encourages audience loyalty and openness to ads,? he said. 

?The post-click experience ? like in native ? is core to the success of all content businesses, be it publishers or content platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and Google. The bet is that improving the mobile Web experience, users will consume more digital content and that's good for everyone.?

Ad revenue
Google AMP does present some challenges for publishers. 

The AMP framework has certain limitations as to what can be put into a page ? this is to ensure that pages are fast. As a result, publishers cannot necessarily port content from their mobile Web site. 

Mr. Phillips urges third-party solutions to ensure they are AMP enabled. 
?Over the last few weeks before launch we saw this evolve on a day to day basis, so I?m sure there will be continuous development to the platform and what we can do with it,? Mr. Phillips said. 

There are also still some questions as to how AMP is going to work for publishers on the advertising front as JavaScript is typically removed from AMP pages to ensure they are fast. 
?The down side of all of this from a publisher perspective is that by stripping out the JS, you also render much of the ad tech that a publisher would typically use to serve ads pretty redundant which obviously concerns many publishers - after all there?s still a need for us to generate ad revenue in some way shape or form,? said Jeremy Makin, vice president of sales at IBT Media across EMEA.

Mr. Makin is confident that Google will come up with something to enable ad tech to function effectively. 

In the meantime, faster loading pages could open up additional advertising opportunities for publishers. 

?Fast loading pages will move further up Google's mobile search rankings, so will be seen more often, and because more pages are being served and users are sticking around on, faster mobile sites for longer and visiting them more frequently there is increase in the number of ads that are able to be served and hence a payback for publishers that adopt early,? Mr. Makin said.