Just a couple weeks ago, I told you how you how to add Google AMP to WordPress. I talked about how it can speed up your mobile site, get you featured in Google’s AMP articles carousel, improve your readers' user experience, and still make you a bit of money.
But, as some recent news articles have discovered, publishers are increasingly finding out that this “little bit of money” is nowhere near how much they make from the non-AMP versions of their mobile sites.
So, with that news coming out, Daan and I thought it was a good idea to follow up on my first post with a deeper look at Google AMP.
A Quick Refresher on Google AMP
I don’t want to rehash my previous post, so I’ll keep this very brief. Google AMP stands for Google Accelerated Mobile Pages. It’s essentially Google’s initiative to speed up the mobile web by offering stripped-down versions of websites to mobile users.
And it works. At least for speeding up the web. AMP pages load silly fast, which definitely improves user experience.
Google has even started marking AMP pages in a carousel at the top of their mobile search results:
So, as far as its stated goal goes, AMP is a smashing success.
What’s the Problem with Google AMP Then?
If you haven’t noticed, many of the bigger decisions one makes in life come down to one main consideration:
And that’s the problem with Google AMP. According to a recent Wall Street Journal article, publishers are having difficulty monetizing AMP traffic to a comparable level as their non-AMP mobile pages.
How bad is the money hit?
Apparently, some publishers are only making about 50% as much money from their AMP pages as they do from their full mobile sites. That’s a...noticeable drop.
If your boss whacked your paycheck down by 50%, you’d probably be upset. And make no mistake - Google is everyone’s boss on the Internet.
Now, Google’s vice president of news has said that publishers who monetize correctly should still see results comparable to their full mobile sites. But I’m guessing that’s not much consolation for publishers who have seen their revenue plummet by 50%.
Google AMP Allows Ads - What’s the Problem?
In my post last week I said that Google AMP allows ads. So if that’s the case, why are publishers struggling so much to monetize their Google AMP articles?
The problem is that the types of ads allowed are limited. Because AMP speeds up sites by stripping down the code, AMP ads are fairly standardized, which knocks out a lot of the crafty ways publishers like to monetize their content. For example, you can kiss popups goodbye with Google AMP.
So it’s not that you can’t advertise on Google AMP - it’s that you can’t advertise the crafty, programmatic stuff that makes the most money.
For example, the plugin I showed you to implement AMP for WordPress only allowed AdSense ads. So if you don’t have the resources of the big publishers, your advertising options will probably be even more limited.
Is Google AMP a Good Idea for WordPress?
It’s not all doom and gloom, some publishers, like CNN (see below), are reporting they’re able to monetize their Google AMP traffic just as well as their regular mobile traffic. The Washington Post is also attaining similar revenue from their Google AMP pages as their regular mobile site.
But all this leads me to believe that if we, as WordPress users, want to monetize Google AMP as well as the big guys are doing it, we’re going to need more than a plugin that allows AdSense ads.
Sure, it’s possible to dig in and manually to set up Google AMP, but that’s definitely out of reach for most WordPress publishers. I looked into it when creating my guide, and it's not something you can quickly do.
Do You Have a Choice, Anyway?
Ok, so Google has been very clear at stating that AMP is not currently a ranking factor. But you know the problem? They keep using that currently qualifier! Which makes me think that at some point, much like HTTPS, it’s going to become a real ranking factor.
And here’s the thing:
Once that happens, no one, not even the major publishers, is going to have much of a choice. Even now, some publishers are scared to share negative feelings for fear of the dreaded Google slap according to the Wall Street Journal article.
If the big guys are scared...well, you and I don’t have much of a chance.
It’s Not Just Google...Users Want This, Too
It’s not like Google is arbitrarily pushing this standard. 53% of mobile users abandon a site that takes too long to load. Remember - that’s the same whether users are on their home Wifi or a spotty 3G network.
What’s more, that same study found that quicker mobile load times led to longer sessions, lower bounce rates, and higher ad viewability.
Essentially, even if revenue per pageview from Google AMP is lower than your regular mobile site, you still might come out ahead because you actually get more visits and page views. A smaller piece of a bigger pie can still be...more pie.
There’s no way I can say if this will hold true for your site. It’s just one of those things you have to test and evaluate yourself.
Wrapping Things Up
I don’t do much personal blogging anymore, so I can’t run my own experiment. But if I had a site, I would definitely at least try Google AMP. I think the fact that both Google and Facebook have introduced a similar type of stripped down articles means that Google AMP and Facebook Instant Articles are the way of the future, whether we want them or not.
So rather than getting dragged kicking and screaming, you may as well embrace it and try to optimize your monetization strategy on those platforms.
Do you disagree? As I said, I don’t have a site to personally test these things. AMP intrigues me, but I see why publishers are wary. I would love to get a discussion going in the comments from people who have either implemented Google AMP, or made a purposeful decision not to implement it.