How Google is working to get AMP ads up to speed

“One person’s page speed is another person’s monetization problem.”

That is how DIGIDAY’s recent piece on a potential pitfall of AMP pages begins. But the pitfall is not what you would expect: according to a small subset of publishers, the blistering speeds of the AMP Project may be making the platform a victim of its own success.

Some publishers complain that their AMP pages load so quickly, that ads on the page can’t keep up. Within this time, audiences are scrolling through articles without giving sufficient time for ads to load, meaning that publishers lose out on potential ad revenue due to ads not being viewable. But this issue has not gone unnoticed by Google, which leads the AMP Project, and the tech giant is working towards a solution that may have far-reaching impacts on the very structure and performance of ads online.

AMP Ads: Better Advertising on a Faster Web
 At Google I/O in May 2017, two members of the AMP team gave a talk on the AMP project and acknowledged that despite the speed boosts that it provides, ads are still far behind. In the talk the AMP initiative is treated as an opportunity to make advertising across the web better for all. You can find it here.

In the presentation Michael Kleber, the tech lead of the AMP Ads Initiative, explains how online ads are still lagging behind other areas of the web in terms of best practice adoption. He says that ads can still be disruptive, slow loading, and/or unsafe. Unfortunately, publishers rarely have control over this.

When the AMP initiative was launched, publishers were responsible for creating their own AMP pages. The AMP team realized that they could not demand publishers fix the ads, given that they rarely have control over them. So the AMP team instead established a series of requirements to make sure that ads work within AMP.

Publishers’ AMP pages had to:

  • follow strict ad dimensions,
  • ensure that ads were separated, and
  • make sure that an emphasis was placed on content.

This guaranteed that ads would not cause the page to jump while loading, that ads would not affect performance, and that the user experience is protected. But the AMP team believed that AMP could do even more.

Creating ads with AMP to get ads up to speed
 The AMP Ads Initiative team believe that AMP itself has the potential to transform how ads work online, by facilitating the creation of ads within AMP rather than HTML5 and other formats.

“Things written in AMP, even if they are ads, cannot have bad performance. That’s the cornerstone of the AMP.”

There are technically challenging aspects to writing ads within AMP, and in the talk Michael explains how the AMP team tackled these issues, such as the fact that ads need to be served from their own domains. The talented team explain how these issues have been resolved, and the solutions that they have found.

The team hopes that in creating the potential for ads to be created within AMP, ads will be faster, safer, and better performing all across the web. That’s right — the AMP team don’t want AMP ads to be restricted to AMP pages, but they want AMP ads to be able to be used across the web.

So clearly, the AMP Project team are aware of publisher and advertiser concerns about ad loading times and viewability. But they have a plan to help.

The benefits of AMP Ads
 The numbers are impressive. On average, AMP ads are 1.6 seconds faster to load than non-AMP ads. In a Time Inc. case study, results showed AMP Ads to be 3x lighter, 6x faster, and capable of generating 13% greater revenue.

These figures suggest that AMP Ads directly address publisher concerns about slow ads and the impact that those slow ads have on revenues. Also, AMP Ads have another positive impact for end users: an improvement to the battery life of their phones, with AMP ads consuming up to 80% less battery.

Naturally, faster ads are great for advertisers who want to maximize the viewability of their ads and get their creatives in front of their target audiences as fast as possible.

How Google will push the AMP Ads Initiative
 Google are hoping to inspire advertisers and ad networks to use the AMP Ads initiative by offering an obvious choice that offers unparalleled performance, intuitive tools to create ads, and analytics tools built upon the AMP Analytics framework.

Publishers, signing services, creative tools, and ad servers are already supporting AMP Ads, and we are intrigued to track how the initiative is adopted by the online advertising industry. With AMP Pages and AMP Landing Pages both becoming more prevalent, AMP Ads is another natural fit into the ecosystem. Google are looking to dominate the mobile web space, and this is an important step in that process.