Thursday 22nd November 2018

Will AMP solve mobile page load problems?

Jason Smith
by on 5th February 2018

Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) is a service offered by Google to attempt to answer the age-old internet question: how do we improve page load for users with poor or low-speed connections?

According to HTTP Archive, mobile page size has increased among their sample size of pages from 2,185kb in January 2017 to 3,069Kb in January 2018 – that’s an increase of nearly 1MB in less than a year.

AMP has positioned itself as a solution to the problem but it has come under fierce criticism from publishers and users alike.

While AMP now serves content from 900,000 domains – including huge media brands like The Guardian, The Washington Post and CNN – and publishes 2 billion pages, publishers are concerned about content syndication.

To use AMP, a publisher has to serve content through Google’s domains (rather than their own) – and all corporate branding is stripped from an AMP page.

Publishers are still able to serve adverts, however AMP pages restrict the use of JavaScript and certain ad units and they must be developed using AMP HTML, a Google-developed proprietary version of HTML specific to AMP pages.

Despite Google’s claims that AMP speeds up page load by 2x, some publishers have likened this development to reverting to the WAP pages of old.

On top of this, Google’s Product Forums are inundated with complaints from users questioning how they can switch off AMP and revert to receiving news from domains which published the content rather than from Google’s servers.

One thread on Google’s Product Forums has close to 1,000 contributions from users and the vast majority are negative.

AMP has partly been developed as a response to ad blocking. Over 80% of Google’s ad revenue comes from digital advertising, not merely via search but also through the Google Display Network.

AdBlocking represents a significant threat to Google’s business model and AMP is a response to what Google deems to be the primary reason behind the rise in ad blocking: slow page load.

The results in relation to ad revenue appear mixed – some publishers report that ad revenue has been maintained, while others report it has declined. According to the WSJ, some publishers have reported AMP pages generate half the revenue of traditional mobile pages.