Diving into Google AMP: Thoughts on a Mobile Game Changer

*One of the highlights of our recent Marfeel-con event was diving into the state of mobile publishing today with a panel of industry experts. Marfeel CEO Xavi Beumala and COO Juan Margenat welcomed to our Barcelona offices Markus Bucheli, CEO and co-founder of LikeMag Media House; Melissa Yonemura, Digital Media Manager for Autoweek magazine from Crain Communication; and Marko Zulj, Channel Partner manager for Google EMEA. Our moderator was Steve Olenski, a Forbes and CMO Network contributor. *

Not long ago, publishers had little interest in developing mobile versions of their desktop websites, and even less concern about page load times, Marfeel CEO Xavi Beumala recalled—until Google AMP, or accelerated mobile pages, “put speed in our consciousness, to all the users and to all the publishers. It’s been a game changer for the technology ecosystem.”

When the switch from desktop to mobile began heating up, mobile technology lagged behind, Google’s Marko Žulj told the group. But in these mobile-first times, “content needs to be delivered fast, because especially younger generations, as we have said, are very impatient.”

Google AMP offered “a very logical solution to what people need” by using speed as a metric in SEO calculations, thus rewarding faster mobile sites. But “it’s not that we are just rewarding speed,” Žulj said. “You as publishers can also be rewarded with more page views coming in with good content.”

The introduction of Google AMP told publishers: “Okay, guys, I’m going to stop sending you traffic until your site is fast,” Beumala said. Moreover, AMP has forced “serious” ad networks to optimize their engineering and improve the “clunky, slow” implementations that were “just breaking the whole ecosystem.”

Moderator Steve Olenski asked for a brand’s perspective on Google AMP, and Melissa Yonemura replied that Autoweek.com, once “admittedly very slow” to load, has had a complex experience with AMP. Faster page loads first began with implementation of the Marfeel platform, which loads pages within seconds and “has made our users happy. We saw our ad impressions skyrocket.”

Implementing Google AMP, however, sent ad impressions back downward for Autoweek. “It wasn’t getting people to stay and view pages longer for us,” Yonemura explained. Still, “we love AMP because it brought us a new audience and it grew our branding.”

(The Marfeel solution launched before Google AMP; the two share some similarities, such as removing render-blocking elements to optimize performance and page speed.)

It’s all about speed for LikeMag Media House, Markus Bucheli said—even though shifting some control to “the Google environment” gave him pause. “At first I thought, it’s just one more thing where we lose control over our distribution channels. But at the end of the day now it brings us more and more audiences, and a more diverse audience. We are heavily Facebook-dependent as a business—Facebook- and Instagram-dependent—and it’s a good tool for us to also generate a broader audience coming from Google.”

As the discussion wound down, Beumala emphasized just how dramatically Google AMP has transformed the mobile experience. In the recent past, he said, “it was not hard to find sites that took 20 seconds to load.”

“Looking back now, that’s pretty crazy,” Olenski responded.

“If one thing was true over time, then speed matters,” Bucheli concluded. “If you have a faster solution, then people stay with you. If they have to wait, you could have the best content in the world, but nobody has the time to wait for this content. So we are still with Google AMP, and we think we will stay.”

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