Quick Hit: AMP Basics

By Peter Prestipino, Editor-In-Chief

Google officially launched its Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) Project within the search results in late February/early March 2016 and many involved in digital media are now actively exploring how to take advantage of this incredible opportunity. And that should include you.

What is AMP exactly and how can you make it work for your enterprise?

The development of AMP is in response to the ever-growing/increasing usage of mobile devices (and in many ways, experts argue, pressure from Facebook and its Instant Articles offering, which hosts publisher content directly within the social network). With AMP, Google is essentially presenting a way for designers and developers (the whole Web really) to improve the mobile content ecosystem so it is faster, less cluttered and more reliable for consumers. Sounds like something you can get on board with, right? Let's hope so.

Research from Soasta indicates that mobile pages that are one second faster can experience a conversion rate increase of up to 27 percent. What's more, the bounce rate can be as high as 58 percent for Web pages that take nearly 10 seconds to load. Speed and performance improvements, of course, aren't the only benefit of using AMP. Google has also indicated that AMP pages will have "enhanced distribution," which can lead to more revenue via ads and subscriptions for publishers. When users search for content on Google from a mobile device today, Web pages created using AMP appear (when relevant) in the "Top Stories" section of the results page. As one might imagine, that's driving its fair share of interest from publishers both large and small. The benefits appear to be many, so how does AMP actually work and how can you get started? Website Magazine has put together a Quick Start Guide to AMP but let's take a look at a few basics.

Accelerated Mobile Pages are just like any other HTML page, but only a limited set of technical functionality (defined and governed by the open source AMP spec) is allowed. AMP files take advantage of various technical and architectural approaches that prioritize speed to provide a faster experience for users (for example, by allowing only asynchronous scripts, sizing all resources statically, forcing CSS to be inline and size-bound and keeping third-party JavaScript out of the critical path). The goal is not to homogenize how content looks and feels, but instead to build a more common technical core between pages that speed up load times. In addition, AMP files can be cached in the cloud in order to minimize the amount of time content takes to get a user's mobile device. By using the AMP format, content producers are making the content in AMP files available to be cached by third parties. Publishers continue to control their content, but other platforms can easily cache or mirror the content for optimal delivery speed to users. Google has stated that it will provide a cache that can be used by anyone at no cost, and all AMPs will be cached by Google's cache.

The introduction of AMP is a big shift for Google, from indexing and directing users to content to establishing the framework and actually hosting a portion of that content it serves to users. The objective is that the combination of limited technical functionality with a distribution system built around caching will lead to better performing pages, and increased audience development for publishers.

Google's Accelerated Mobile Pages project will encourage today's digital enterprises to ensure the mobile Web works better - and there's plenty of room for improvement as it stands today.