Google launched AMP Stories, a feature that lets publishers create full-screen content for mobile websites that looks like Snapchat or Instagram Stories, which string together multiple images in a single post, the company announced on its blog for developers. AMP stands for Accelerated Mobile Pages, the open-source project led by Google to speed up website downloads on smartphones.
CNN, Conde Nast, People, Mashable, Mic and the Washington Post are launch partners in AMP Stories. The format isn’t available for advertisers, but Google has plans to add them, per Advertising Age. More details about ads will be available in the coming weeks.
AMP Stories can be easily shared or linked because they reside on a mobile website and are hosted on the publisher's site, Malte Ubl, engineering lead at the Google AMP Project, said in the blog post. The AMP Story format is free and open for everyone to try on their websites. Early AMP Stories can be seen in a mobile browser at g.co/ampstories.
The news points to how the Story format, which was pioneered by Snapchat but is now available across a number of platforms, is becoming a must-have design approach for engaging mobile users with editorial content. Smartphone savvy consumers are familiar with the format's unique mix of media and swipeable navigation, a combination that makes it easy and enjoyable to consume content on a small screen.
Publishers are likely to welcome a new format that gives them more creative freedom to present content in a compelling way outside of a mobile app, which is the main reason that Google started the AMP Project several years ago. Google earns most of its revenue from ad placements on websites. “AMP stories aim to make the production of stories as easy as possible from a technical perspective,” Google’s Ubl said in his blog post. “The format comes with preset but flexible layout templates, standardized UI controls, and components for sharing and adding follow-on content.”
Publishers are also very likely to adopt AMP Stories because Google gives preference to mobile sites featuring the fast-loading format in its search results. The tech giant, which is estimated to control about 94% of the U.S. mobile search market, last month announced a plan to make the download speed of mobile web pages a key part of its method for ranking search results. In December, the company said it would increasingly rely on the mobile version of a website's content when indexing and ranking search results. Meanwhile, Google's Chrome browser will start blocking ads on desktop and mobile sites that don't meet its standards starting Feb. 15.
Snapchat pioneered the Stories format — which was copied by Facebook’s Instagram to ward off competition from the image-messaging upstart — and it remains to be seen how Google’s AMP Stories will shape rivalry between the mobile web and social-media apps. Google likely will help to popularize the Stories format among a wider group of publishers, which may lead them to consider working with Snapchat to develop Stories for its Discover section, where the app features professionally produced content. But AMP Stories may also pressure Snapchat’s ad rates as marketers are presented with a wider choice of publisher sites with their own ad inventory to sell. Meanwhile, Facebook and Instagram may introduce their own versions of Discover that would further disrupt the market, per TechCrunch.