Yesterday, I read an interesting article titled The Why and How of Google AMP at Condé Nast. I’ll let Condé Nast introduce themselves in their own words:
Condé Nast is one of the world’s most prestigious publishers. You may recognize some of our brands which include Ars Technica, Bon Appétit, Golf Digest, GQ, Pitchfork, The New Yorker, Vanity Fair, Vogue, Wired, and others.
Over all the author makes it seem like AMP was a huge win for Condé Nast. To be fair, if I was in their shoes, I would be crazy not to implement AMP as well. They are a big publisher, competing for the Google’s News Carousel at the top of the search result. The only way to get into the Carousel is by implementing AMP.
In author’s own words:
AMP increases the visibility and discoverability of our content by allowing it to be included in Google’s Top News Carousel
The author than goes on to say:
AMP ensures our content consistently loads quickly anywhere in the world
True, Google is providing a free CDN, but there are other affordable CDN solutions available.
When this article was posted on Hacker News a user asked the following question:
Why are they crowing about how much faster it is?
I imagine if they stripped off all the stuff from their own sites that doesn’t show up on AMP the speed would basically be the same, and they wouldn’t be under Google’s thumb.
Here is the top reply:
The irony was that we were doing exactly that at The New Yorker (one of the many Conde Nast sites) – rebuilding the article page as a start point.
We had to pause that project and drop it all to go work on AMP…
(so you could fairly say I’m a bit bitter about that)
This person drives home a very important point. Nobody is arguing against fast and user friendly web. It’s just a lot of us, fans of the open web, wish that Google would use their muscle to move the open web forward, instead of forcing everyone to conform to a single (open-source but under Google’s heavy influence) format.
I also believe that it ONLY makes sense for big publishers to implement AMP. For a small blog like mine, I found it to be a big time sink with no visible benefits. The web could benefit the most from little guys like me getting behind a decent CDN. Ironically, AMP only makes sense to large publishers, who do have resources needed to get their content behind a good CDN.
In any case, if we go back to the original article, the author states the following.
This seamless experience leads to increased engagement and decreased bounce.
This is also true. It increased engagement and decreased bounce rate, for Google! Since I am forced to use AMP on my iPhone, I can tell that on Carousel I don’t bother to click through to the original article, and I swipe left and right like crazy. This may not be a bad thing for me is a user, but if publishers believe this increases engagement with their site, they are probably in denial.
Likewise, as I’ve pointed out elsewhere, the “x” button at the top of AMP bar takes the user back to Google. This I am sure decreases bounce rate for Google. The bounce rate is defined as “the percentage of visitors to a particular website who navigate away from the site after viewing only one page.
Next the author writes:
Monetization benefits are less decisive and pending further analysis of our current implementation.
Translation, we don’t know how much money we are making with AMP, probably less than usual, but we don’t want to be negative about it.
It’s possible that AMP pages perform better when it comes to ad revenue, but that revenue can only come from AMP approved ad networks. Considering that Google controls most of AMP and that Google is an ad company, I find this situation to be uncomfortable.
Average search position went from 5.9 (Regular) to 1.7 (AMP)
I was told by Malte Ubl (product manager for AMP at Google) multiple times in writing that Google does not increase search result base on implementation of AMP. I am confident that, at least to the best of his knowledge, he was telling the truth.
So either the original author is wrong, or something else is going on there.
AMP has had a positive impact to the business in terms of traffic and to our Google users in terms of experience
This also may be true. The author did not provide any numbers in terms of actual traffic coming from mobile Google search results before and after AMP was implemented.
I had a similar experience but on a much smaller scale, when I disabled AMP on my site. I examine my traffic numbers one month after the AMP support was turned off, and noticed no significant difference in my Google mobile traffic.
We are very excited to see what the future holds as other platforms outside of Google decide to deliver AMP content
I am very scared to see what the future holds for the open web. I sincerely hope that other platforms decide NOT to deliver the AMP content.