Google’s Aiming To Make The Mobile Web Much Faster


ipad-632394_960_720Last year, Google began an initiative to dramatically increase the loading times of mobile web pages. The new project was dubbed AMP or Accelerated Mobile Pages. It is essentially a novel type of HTML that is open source that Google is prompting various code developers and publishers to adopt in their new designs.

 

Why Focus on Mobile Page Loading Times?

 

The mobile web is notoriously slow and this is an impediment to most smart phone users. In order to increase load times and greatly enhance the mobile experience, it became obvious that a new solution had to be developed. Since fast page load times are highly correlated to lower bounce rates and higher conversion rates, speed has become a high priority for most internet marketers. From Google’s perspective,  a faster mobile web would permit them to roll out new products and services that are specifically tailored to the burgeoning mobile market, which is starting to dominate the web.

Why Is AMP Better?

 

According to Google, AMP HTML will significantly increase mobile web performance by permitting developers to create mobile web pages that minimize reliance on technology that slows down page loading times, such as Javascript. AMP permits developers to cache web pages prior to them actually displaying or clicking on the page so that it will load in milliseconds, rather than several seconds. A number of other well regarded tech companies have joined in this collaborative effort. Others that have joined the fray include Adobe, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Twitter, WordPress, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and others.

 

The AMP project is open source and it is hopeful that the free dissemination of information will ensure that mobile will work more efficiently for all.  The specifications for the project have been released on www.ampproject.org. The initial version of the project primarily concentrates on pages that include animations and photos, which will load much faster.  Google’s goal is to add partners and steadily incorporate additional functionality and features into AMP over time.  According to Google the main areas that will be focused on initially are:

 

Advertising

 

Advertising is a source of funds for content and services that are otherwise provided free of charge on the internet. AMP aims to support a complete range of advertising formats and technologies. Sites that make use of AMP HTML will keep their advertising network choices and all formats that don’t deprecate the user’s experience. The goal is to maintain the current ad experience while increasing ad and page load times.

 

Content

 

Publishers and content generators are relying more often upon rich content like data visualizations, videos, carousels, and maps to improve the experience of their readers. Analytics and advertisements are also used to monetize content and learn more about the behavior of their users.  AMP is open source code that permits authors to generate stellar content while utilizing AMP features to increase performance and enhance user experience.  The initial specification has been released on amproject.org with input from numerous partners and publishers.

 

Distribution

 

Publishers have a vested interest in insuring that their content can be widely disseminated so that it can be served worldwide in an instant. This requires it to be distributed across many different types of platforms and devices. Consequently, the ability for content to be distributed is a vital requirement. To fulfill this requirement, Google has created a novel caching approach that give publishers the ability to host content while their content is efficiently distributed via Google’s global cache.  Google intends to make their cache servers open to all who want to utilize them, for no charge.

 

How Does All of This Benefit Google?

 

AMP HTML may sound similar to other initiatives that are meant to increase page load speed such as Apple News and Facebook Instant. Nevertheless, Apple News and Facebook Instant are meant to encourage authors to publish to their own closed platforms whereas AMP is open source so it is to be utilized for publishing anywhere on the web.  This is a rather important distinction since many publishers have reservations about giving control of their data and audience to other companies.

 

Certainly Google is also anticipating a revenue increase from the AMP initiative. However, dissimilar to Facebook and Apple which are attempting to control the advertising experience within their own platforms, AMP users will keep their selection of advertising technology and analytics partners as long as those partners make use of AMP standards. Since DoubleClick is the largest ad server with a 70% market share and it is owned by Google, the majority of publishers will be keeping the same partner if they adopt AMP.

 

Since Google’s business is primarily conducted on the web and their applications are increasingly accessed on mobile devices, the benefits to Google are clear. A better user experience will encourage users to increasingly access the web and make use of Google’s products and services. Since the performance of applications on smart phones is not nearly as good as on traditional desktop devices, there is still a lot of room for growth and improvement.

 

Many of Google’s AMP partners are publishers whose content is consumed by large media and news organizations. This organizations don’t want to sacrifice their analytics data. AMP has a standard built into it that is called AMP pixel. This permits tracking from third party software to be redirected without any performance impact. This feature significantly enhances the probability of adoption by large publishers.  In addition, fast load times are a large factor in improving the mobile experience for content providers. The AMP project is a means to improve user experience while giving publishers plenty of flexibility in a manner that will support their business needs for monetization, data, and analytics.

 

—James Conte, SEO Manager