Accelerated Mobile Pages
The Accelerated Mobile Pages Project (AMP) is an open-source website publishing technology designed to improve the performance of web content and advertisements. The AMP Project led by Google is a competitor to Facebook's Instant Articles, and includes several other large search, social and web publishing platforms around the world.
Announcement and launchEdit
The AMP Project was announced by Google on October 7, 2015 following discussions with its partners in the European Digital News Initiative (DNI), and other news publishers and technology companies around the world, about improving the performance of the mobile web. More than 30 news publishers and several technology companies (including Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn and WordPress) were initially announced as collaborators in the AMP Project.
AMP pages first appeared to web users in February 2016, when Google began to show the AMP versions of webpages in mobile search results. Initially links to AMP pages were restricted to a “Top Stories” section of Google’s mobile search results; by September 2016 Google started linking to AMP content in the main mobile search results area. AMP links in Google search are identified with an icon.
Growth and expansionEdit
In May 2017, Google reported 900,000 web domains were publishing AMP pages with more than two billion AMP pages published globally.
In June 2017 Twitter started linking to AMP pages from its iOS and Android apps.
Open Web FormatEdit
AMP pages are published on the open web and can be displayed in most current browsers.[which?] When a standard webpage has an AMP counterpart, a link to the AMP page is usually placed in an HTML tag in the source code of the standard page. Because most AMP pages are easily discoverable by web crawlers, third parties such as search engines and other referring websites can choose to link to the AMP version of a webpage instead of the standard version.
Third party integrationEdit
Any organization or individual can build products or features which will work on AMP pages, provided they comply with the AMP Project specifications. As of July 2017, the AMP Project’s website listed around 120 advertising companies and around 30 analytics companies as AMP Project participants.
Google reports that AMP pages served in Google search typically load in less than one second and use 10 times less data than the equivalent non-AMP pages. CNBC reported a 75% decrease in mobile page load time for AMP Pages over non-AMP pages, while Gizmodo reported that AMP pages loaded three times faster than non-AMP pages.
Parity with canonical pagesEdit
Google has announced that as of February 1, 2018 it will require the content of canonical pages and those displayed through AMP be substantially the same. This is aimed at improving the experience of users by avoiding common difficulties with the user interface, and increase security and trust (see below).
Content publishing platformsEdit
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Whilst AMP has been readily embraced for its many positive features in various industries, such as news and media, it has additional benefits for users in financial services sector which has often (due to commercial relationships and commission structures unique to that industry) induced questionable practices which have not always best served the consumer.
The AMP methodology provides a website designer the ability to reverse various approaches tried over the years, of controlling consumers and search engines, by ensuring all participants operate in an equal environment regardless of the page's type. An obvious, although possibly unintended, example of one of AMP's security features is the elimination of pop-ups. Whilst (according to most neutral observers) pop-ups have a generally negative effect on the overall interactions a user has, it is fair to say that within some sectors of the financial services industry, this practice takes unfair advantage of consumers, and commonly goes against the regulatory guidelines of many financial conduct authority bodies, and its wholesale removal from the website's creators ability removes temptation.
As a result, many financial technology companies are embracing the positive elements of the ecosystem, embracing the structured environment as an opportunity to build more engaging websites.
Comparison to other formatsEdit
AMP is often compared to Facebook Instant Articles and Apple News. All three formats were announced in 2015 with the stated goal of making mobile content faster and easier to consume. AMP Project supporters point out that AMP is a collaborative effort among publishers and technology companies, and that AMP is designed to work on the open web instead of proprietary mobile apps.
Google’s Richard Gingras said:
“There's a very big difference between having a proprietary platform that says it's open, and having an open-source platform that is open to anyone to modify and adapt. It's the difference between saying come into my walled garden vs. not having a walled garden.”
Matthew Ingram of Fortune expressed concerns about Google’s role and motives regarding the AMP Project:
“In a nutshell, these publishers are afraid that while the AMP project is nominally open-source, Google is using it to shape how the mobile web works, and in particular, to ensure a steady stream of advertising revenue… More than anything else, the concerns that some publishers have about AMP seems to be part of a broader fear about the loss of control over distribution in a platform-centric world, and the risks that this poses to traditional monetization methods such as display advertising.”
These charges were rebutted by Google. Madhav Chinnappa stated that AMP must be a collaborative industry initiative in order for it to succeed in the long term:
“I get a little bit irritated when sometimes people call it Google’s AMP, because it’s not … AMP was created as an open source initiative and that for me is the reason for its success.”
"AMP pages rely heavily on standardized banner ad units, and don’t allow publishers to sell highly-customized ad units, sponsorships or pop-up ads as they might on their own properties"
Other publishers have reported better success with AMP monetization. The Washington Post has been able to generate approximately the same amount of revenue from AMP pages as from standard mobile pages, according to director of product Joey Marburger. CNN chief product officer Alex Wellen said AMP Pages “largely monetize at the same rate” as standard mobile pages.
Exploitation for malicious purposesEdit
Some observers believe AMP allows more effective phishing attempts. One serious flaw, noted by tech writer Kyle Chayka, is that disreputable parties who misuse AMP (as well as Facebook's similar Instant Articles) enable junk websites to share many of the same visual cues and features found on legitimate sites. “All publishers end up looking more similar than different. That makes separating the real from the fake even harder,” said Chayka.
In September 2017, Russian hackers used an AMP vulnerability in phishing e-mails sent to investigative journalists critical of the Russian government, and hacked into their websites. Google announced on 16 November 2017 that it will stop allowing sites using AMP for formatting to bait-and-switch sites. Google said beginning February 2018, AMP pages must contain content nearly identical to that of the standard page they’re replicating.
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