Tackling mobile latency with Google AMP pages
What is Google AMP, and why do you need to jump on this bandwagon?
In 2015, the Google-backed AMP project introduced publishers, developers, and advertisers across the world to Accelerated Mobile Pages. The idea was to eliminate mobile latency through fast-loading pages by focusing on excellent user experience.
Mobile site issues like slow-loading content, unresponsive pages, and content displacement by ads affect users negatively. In addition, bloated sites with heavy design elements, too many ad blocks and scripts for analytics, google or third-party, lead to bad UX.
Today, more than 31 million websites have Google AMP pages with a vision of growing their business and offering a phenomenal mobile experience to their users. Sounds great, right?
Google AMP has three core components:
- AMP HTML
It is a subset of HTML but a restricted one. The restrictions are so that it works well with the other elements. The number of elements you can use while adding some new ones are limited.
- AMP JS
- AMP Cache
AMP cache fetches and caches them, so there is no need for a roundtrip to the publisher’s origin to display the content. Google AMP page validation also happens through the AMP cache as it makes sure that the users only see valid Google AMP pages.
Mobile devices have inherently low CPM compared to desktops because of variables like screen size limitations, lower CTR, and ultimately a lower conversion rate. However, even if the CPM is low, it is not a positive indicator because the quality of traffic is low. Now, the quality of traffic is directly proportional to good UX. So how do you offer a flawless user experience and grow your ad revenue significantly?
Google AMP is the answer. It is a turnkey solution to having a performance side with good UX.
Why Google AMP pages?
- They end your user’s suffering.
Google AMP pages are fast, with near-instantaneous loading. They are smooth scrolling and have styling and branding flexibility. Google AMP best practices and design guidelines make it easier for the browser to display according to set rules. It translates to a great user experience, lower bounce rate, and higher user interaction. Not only will your users have a lightning-fast browsing experience, but you will also be able to share more content with them without losing their attention.
- You can build Google AMP in-house without a big budget.
You do not need to hire a new team to build Google AMP pages. Your current team can do it for you because AMP utilizes the existing skillset of your web designers. Google AMP pages can also be built in CMS like WordPress with the help of AMP plug-ins.
- Continue providing exclusive content to your subscribers through Google AMP.
You can easily segment your audience and offer exclusive content to your subscribers through paywalls and subscriptions through Google AMP.
- You have full control of your content.
Even if you implement Google AMP pages, Google does not have any control over your content.
- Display a broad range of ads on your Google AMP.
This aspect is crucial for most publishers who have still not switched to Google AMP. Google AMP supports different ads like banner ads, flying carpet, sticky ads, promoted content, and video ads. Therefore, you do not have to readjust your monetization model because you can offer all kinds of ads to advertisers.
- Google AMP pages are open to all.
Google AMP pages go beyond Google and are crawled, linked, and directly visited by search engines like Bing, Google, Baidu, and Yahoo. Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest also use Google AMP pages to offer their users a seamless mobile experience. The benefits of Google AMP pages do not go to Google, nor does it only show Google AMP pages in its search results. There is no bias. Since Google AMP is an open project, developers across the world contribute to its improvement. There are no restrictions on who can join an AMP working group.
What about ads on Google AMP?
Just like Google AMP pages, you can design AMP ads (AMPHTML ads) which you can publish on both Google AMP and non-AMP pages. However, AMP ads are better than traditional HTML-coded ads because:
- They are faster, lighter, and more secure.
Speed remains the basis of all that is AMP. When the page rendering process begins, the ads are requested and displayed before a user views them. Since the size of AMPHTML ads is smaller than traditional ones, the loading speed increases.
AMPHTML ads consume only essential resources, collect all the relevant data at once and distribute it to different interested trackers. That’s why the ads are lighter and do not burden the mobile device.
As for security, AMPHTML ads cannot contain malware since they are verified and validated before being served on platforms. Another win for users!
- They are coordinated for best performance.
AMPHTML ads are coordinated to use the limited resources of a mobile phone optimally based on their components. Ads in the viewport are displayed, but video or animated ads that do not appear in the viewport are automatically paused.
- They offer high engagement.
Since they load faster without disturbing the layout or the content of the page because of their specific requirements, they offer high viewability and engagement, consequently high click-through rates and ad revenue.
- They are flexible.
You are welcome to use AMPHTML ads in creative formats like carousel, lightbox, parallax, etc. which, appear across any device seamlessly.
- They have a higher potential for SEO indexing.
Since webpage speed is a measuring and ranking factor in Google’s mobile indexes, AMPHTML ads have a better SEO index.
Google AMP is an open-source project, so improvements to it are proposed periodically. To map how good the UX is, Google recently announced that it would factor page experience signals into its search ranking by May 2021. The current search signals include safe-browsing, mobile-friendliness, intrusive interstitial guidelines, and HTTPS security. Core Web Vitals will merge with these existing signals to make the indexing fair and easier.
What are Core Web Vitals, and how do they come into the picture?
Core Web Vitals, simply put, are a subset of Web Vitals. They apply to all web pages. Since they measure user experience, every site owner can and should measure them with Google tools widely available, even on CMS platforms.
Core Web Vitals completely focuses on user experience. Therefore, they take into consideration the following metrics:
- Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) ─ How fast does the page load?
This metric reports the time required to render only the largest image or text block in the user’s viewport. Google’s benchmark is 2.5 seconds.
- First Input Delay (FID) ─ How interactive is the page?
FID calculates the time between the user’s first interaction with the page and the browser’s response. For example, it calculates how much time the page takes to respond to the user selecting an item from a menu. First Input Delay should be 100 milliseconds or less, as prescribed by Google.
- Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) ─ How visually stable is the page?
This metric is the sum of all individual layout shift scores for any unexpected layout shifts (changes in the position of visible elements) that happen when a page loads. The importance of this metric is high because it affects the ad revenue. The CLS score should be 0.1 or less, according to Google.
Core Web Vitals affect the SEO ranking of a page. If publishers want users to come to their website, they need to appear in Google’s search results. If the Core Web Vitals of a page or website are good, they will lead to a reduced bounce rate, increased time spent on the page, which directly relates to increased ad revenue through improved ad performance.
You can measure Core Web Vitals using these six methods:
- PageSpeed Insights
- Google Search Console
- Chrome Web Vitals Extension
- Chrome UX Report
- Chrome DevTools
Now, what is the best way to get the expected score for Core Web Vitals? Implementing Google AMP pages can be the first step!
Common challenges in implementing Google AMP:
Google AMP pages remove unnecessary JS and ad tags to provide a faster experience. This may affect how your impression numbers look.
- Analyzing performance is not as easy in Google AMP.
Google’s CDN service that improves site rendering may inflate the page views. As a result, these numbers may get misinterpreted and lead to a discrepancy between pageviews and expected ad revenue.
- You cannot forecast your earnings.
A discrepancy in reporting means you cannot accurately predict your ad revenue.
- Your Google AMP demand doesn’t match your expectations.
Ad campaigns of most advertisers focus on clicks and impressions. They do not get into what Google AMP will do for them. Therefore, they will always be inclined to choose a platform with better ROI. It is difficult to maintain a good eCPM and CTR on your AMP inventory, and this may lead to a loss in revenue.
Stumbling in your path to deploying Google AMP pages is not an option because of how well accepted it has now become. Upgrading your web pages the right way will help you deal with all the pitfalls efficiently. More so, there are ways to help you boost your ad revenue. Here is how:
- Your AMP inventory is valuable
For better targeting and tracking, you need to segment your AMP inventory for direct and programmatic deals. Don’t hesitate to include all your demand sources to drive the competition.
- Maintain a healthy ad density
Your Google AMP and non-AMP pages should have a good ad density to have no ad or content parity.
- Use Video Ads in Google AMP
Instream and outstream video monetization can be done in Google AMP using third party extensions.
- Partner with experienced third-party ad techs
For effective AMP monetization, partner with experienced ad techs that offer header bidding (wrapper-based or RTC) with AMP, multi ad formats in innovative ad units and enabling AMPHTML ads.
Server-side header bidding can contribute anything between 5-25% of a website’s revenue. A good ad tech partner will bring in the best results with additional benefits like reporting access, AdX implementation, out-of-page placements, etc.
- Run tests and observe results
Test your placements to make sure you make the most of your AMP inventory. You can also optimize your Google AMP pages or try different strategies for ad loading for Google AMP pages.
- Start slow
If you are still unsure about deploying Google AMP pages for all pages, then use it on a few and sell them via direct-sold mobile campaigns openly. Tally the results with your standard inventory and if you see considerable growth, then take the next plausible step.
- Pitching is key
How you pitch AMP is vital. Creating a separate section for AMP inventory in your media kit might be a good start.
Google AMP pages aim at providing users a great experience. Implementing Google AMP pages does not have to be a trade-off between ad revenue and technology because the industry has evolved with service solutions to deal with the challenges faced by publishers. User experience remains the center of all thought and process within the Google AMP ecosystem, and it is here to stay and evolve. Use Google AMP to grow, expand and prosper because hundreds of ad tech partners, ad demand partners, and publishers across the world are embracing it.