Google launches accelerated mobile pages project – is it good for publishers?

Sarah Homewood
By Sarah Homewood | 8 October 2015

Google has become the latest internet behemoth to set its sights on publishing, with the business overnight launching its accelerated mobile pages project which will allow publishers to develop articles that load quicker in the mobile web.

The project, which is similar to Facebook's Instant Articles, is open source, meaning any publisher will be able to get involved, with the new open framework being built entirely out of existing web technologies, which allows websites to build light-weight web pages.

David Besbris, Google's vice president engineering, search, announced the move overnight saying after consulting with publishers its launching Accelerated Mobile Pages, with the aim to dramatically improve the performance of the mobile web.

He explained that it wants web pages with rich content like video, animations and graphics to work alongside smart ads, and to load instantaneously. Google also wants the same code to work across multiple platforms and devices so that content can appear everywhere “in an instant - no matter what type of phone, tablet or mobile device a consumer is using”.

“Smartphones and tablets have revolutionised the way we access information, and today people consume a tremendous amount of news on their phones,” he said.

“Publishers around the world use the mobile web to reach these readers, but the experience can often leave a lot to be desired. Every time a webpage takes too long to load, they lose a reader - and the opportunity to earn revenue through advertising or subscriptions. That's because advertisers on these websites have a hard time getting consumers to pay attention to their ads when the pages load so slowly that people abandon them entirely,” Besbris added.

As part of the launch Google announced it's working with 30 publishers including Fairfax Media and News Corp Australia locally.

Jordan Kretchmer, CEO and founder of Livefyre said that Google's AMP project could actually spell bad news for publishers.

“Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages initiative is an example of a major network muscling in on news publishers’ most valuable asset – their content.

“Just like its companions Facebook Instant Articles and Apple News, Google AMP will be a platform that takes the first step towards appropriating publisher-owned content to house on their properties, and won’t be offering remuneration for that content,” he said.

Kretchmer also noted that it's more important than ever that publishers focus their attention not just on others’ distribution channels, but on getting loyal readers to consume their content via their own sites and mobile apps.

“Otherwise the readers will become loyal to Google news, or Facebook Instant Articles. Publishers who develop strong and loyal communities will see long-term increases in content distribution and revenue by having complete ownership over the audience and their own monetisation strategies," he added.

Google's focus on the mobile web comes just as Nielsen and the IAB have rolled out an accurate way to measure mobile interactions. Just yesterday, The IAB published its first full Nielsen Mobile Ratings Report and with it comes a hope for more confidence in mobile that will lead to more strategic investment from advertisers and publishers.

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