What is Accelerated Mobile Pages = AMP?

Amp logo and mobile device with Google logo.

If you are somewhat up to date with what’s going on in the tech world, you may have stumbled across the term AMP, the official shortcut for the term Accelerated Mobile Pages. What exactly is AMP then and who is behind it? Is it something you need to implement, and foremost, can you serve ads on an AMP site? Let us break down everything for you in this article.

What exactly is AMP?

AMP is an open-source HTML framework that aims to improve the performance and speed of web pages on mobile devices.  More and more people are using their mobile devices as their main source of browsing equipment and the whole idea with AMP is to make your mobile experience as fast and speedy as ever possible.

Who is behind AMP?

The AMP framework is originally an initiative from the tech giants Google and Twitter and a few others, but mainly Google has been the driving force behind the project. Rumor has it that it was created as a response to Facebook’s Instant Articles and Apple News. The first AMP pages rolled out as early as 2016 and the project was at the time being criticized for potentially handing over even more power and control over the web to Google. In 2018 the project was transformed into an open-source model and several new partners started to join the project. AMP is constantly being developed, and from the initial roll-out, new features and applications are constantly being tested and added.

What makes AMP so fast?

The technology enables a faster page load on mobiles and tablets by using a simpler form of HTML, where only a limited number of tags are available for use. CSS and JavaScript are extremely restricted, as everything is built around maximizing page speed. Images are not loaded until they are in-view and all content is heavily cached. AMP pages mainly focus on readability so most interactive features are more or less removed.

Can you serve ads with AMP?

The short answer is yes, yes you can, but it will not work as effortlessly as with a regular webpage and HTML tag. As the whole point of AMP is to make sites fast and non-interruptive, traditional websites ads might not get a green light by AMP. 

There have also been wide discussions when it comes to the performance of AMP ads. AMP ads can deliver very good results and high CPMs due to the insane page load rate, along with some cool features such as Fast Fetch, RTC, and auto ad refresh AMP sites offer. On the other hand, the monetization options and formats are limited when it comes to AMP pages, so fully relying on revenue from AMP pages might not add up to your regular ad performance.

How can Kiosked help me with my AMP site?

If you do not want to dedicate all your monetization efforts to Google (which you under no circumstances should) you need a specific AMP tag in order for third-party monetization partners to work on your site. AMP however makes it possible to serve existing display ads by adding a specific <amp-ad> tag to the AMP page. AMP ad placements are generally heavily sandboxed in terms of JavaScript execution and DOM access. Kiosked does offer custom made AMP tags that are compatible with AMP in order to make it possible for publishers to monetize their AMP sites with Kiosked. Note that dynamic tags will not work on AMP sites, while static tags will function if formatted as an AMP friendly HTML block. Kiosked will provide you with the needed tag and instruct you on how to implement it on your site. AMP tags are simple but you need to be very careful when installing the tag. Setting these values incorrectly will result in incorrectly displayed ads. Our tech team will help you get everything working as it should.

Will I benefit from AMP?

This is a twisted question that many want an answer to. Let’s start by stating that there are certainly great benefits that come along with AMP, some of which we will explain deeper in a sec. It’s safe to say that some industries and sites will benefit from AMP on a larger scale than others. Amp comes with both pros and cons, let’s explain the most important ones.

Pros with AMP

Speed

Site speed is the main reason AMP was invented in the first place, so we will not argue against the fact that AMP will increase your site speed drastically, and you will benefit from it. Users today are expecting an extreme page load speed on mobile, and if your viewers are wired onto a poor connection (like 3G) you will benefit massively from having AMP pages in place. 

SEO and SERP ranking

This goes hand in hand with page speed, as a fast page load will improve your SEO ranking and your probability of ranking high on a SERP. Google is taking this to the next level as they have reserved a dedicated space called “Top Stories” that are specifically reserved for AMP pages. A new feature, the carousel, will also encourage users to scroll through multiple different articles within the same session, amazing right? Google has confirmed that AMP pages will not get any special treatment when it comes to SEO ranking, but we have a feeling that this might not be entirely true. 

New features

As AMP is a project that is constantly being developed towards the better, new features are being launched at a rapid pace. From the initial launch of user-friendly mobile pages, the AMP project has come quite far today. As AMP markets on its website banner, “AMP is a web component framework to easily create user-first websites, stories, ads, and e-mails.” The website and ad part we’ve already covered so let’s talk about the other features they offer. Web stories (formerly known as AMP Stories) are full-screen visuals that naturally load really fast and provide content in a mobile-friendly format as tap-through stories. They have been very liked by website browsers and are especially effective on news sites. AMP email offers the opportunity to use AMP to send interactive, dynamic e-mails. They offer the opportunity to modernize the e-mail experience by supporting dynamic content and interactive features without sacrificing security. We expect to see many more features show up in the upcoming years.

Four mobile devices with AMP stories featured.
The AMP stories live.
Image from Variety.com

Cons with AMP

Analytics

Interestingly a project driven by Google is not made compatible with the most standard website analytics tool available, Google Analytics. You cannot use analytics.js on AMP to track your website performance, instead, a specific analytics tag specifically designed for AMP is needed. The AMP analytics tag provides you with some basic page, user, browsing, interactions, and event data, but has significantly limited capabilities compared to the standard analytics tag. To complicate things further, Google employes their CDN service for site rendering on AMP pages. This again can mess up the tracking on the number of page views, which makes it difficult to measure traffic and estimate revenue streams. 

Simple webpage design

Super-fast and extremely mobile-friendly web scrolling comes at a cost, minimalistic webpages. As AMP is not the same as a mobile version of a desktop webpage, the design will not be 100% diluted to your brand. Without JavaScript in place, your inserted background and banners, images, and carousels will not show, instead AMP coding is used to load only necessary content and only the information that the browser needs. This means that you will not have as much impact on the design on AMP pages as you would on regular mobile pages, and you can kiss your impressive high-res images goodbye. 

Monetization restrictions

We already talked about this, but felt it’s relevant to include it as a potential con as monetization is so essential to our clients and the monetization of AMP pages is a challenge for many publishers. The need for a specific tag, the limited ad placement options, and difficulties with attracting a large scale of demand has made AMP monetization a hassle for many. The addition of RTC and wrapper-based header bidding made it a bit easier to monetize with AMP, but we are far from the ideal advertising landscape yet.

Conclusions on AMP

To sum things up, AMP pages bring great potential to make the internet, and mobile browsing, a better place. If you are struggling with lazy load and your mobile performance is lagging, AMP might be the solution for you. As AMP is an open-source project, it will continue to develop over time. It has many great functionalities already, but also lots of limitations, especially when it comes to monetization opportunities. Website monetization is also an ongoing experiment, what works for some might not work for others. If you are curious, give AMP a try. Just remember that when it comes to monetization, you should never put all your eggs in one basket.