Publishers were quick to warm up to Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP), Google’s open-source effort to speed up the mobile web. Now the initiative is catching on among retailers too.
The tipping point came late last year, when Google began showing links to AMP throughout all search results (as opposed to just the carousel at top). A range of online retailers including eBay, Eventbrite and Campmor with mobile e-commerce sites have since signed on.
The initiative began with Google using AMP to highlight news articles by publishers, but AMP also has considerable implications for retailers, said Robert Gara, co-founder and director of business development at WompMobile, a digital agency that specializes in converting traditional websites into mobile-optimized ones. The only issue: Measurement is still a problem.
“AMP is perfect because the blazing-fast speed and better SEO optimization is a win-win for e-commerce and retail,” he said. “The faster you are on mobile, the better position you are in to capture your consumers.”
Plus, it ultimately helps boost conversion. According to Google, conversions fall by 12 percent for every extra second a webpage takes to load. AMP helps brands and retailers speed things up on ads, landing pages and even their entire websites. AMP sites on average are four times faster than their mobile counterparts and use 10 times less data.
Outdoor retailer Campmor, for example, was one of the brands WompMobile helped with AMP. The agency optimized its mobile website for AMP, building AMP pages containing all the essential e-commerce elements including product specifications, brand attributes and photos. The implementation led to a 28 percent increase per order and a 20 percent lower bounce rate for the retailer.
“When it comes to mobile retail, load speed is the difference between a sale or abandonment,” said Nicholas Scilingo, senior director of digital marketing at Campmor. “Since implementing AMP, our mobile customers are spending more time on the site and buying more products.”
This is hardly a surprise. Just like publishers, retailers that use AMP are prominently featured in the carousel at the top with a relatively large image as well as a small lightning bolt icon, or Google’s logo for AMP. They are also rewarded by Google with prime real estate in its search results, thereby further boosting visibility and hence the click-through rate.
“After aggregating performance metrics across 500,000 AMP pages, one measurement that blew us away is a 29 percent increase in CTRs from search,” said WompMobile’s Gara. “We attribute this to growing awareness of the lightning-bolt badge and because AMPs rank higher in search results pages — that is, more eyeballs.”
EBay, on the other hand, was among a dozen of Google’s first retailer partners and started converting its mobile pages to AMP in September 2016. Today, it has close to 16 million AMP-based product browse pages. For the online marketplace, the biggest factor for going down the AMP route was to ensure a compelling user experience for customers coming from external platforms like search engines.
“When users come to our website directly, we can predict and optimize their journeys,” said Senthil Padmanabhan, eBay’s web platform lead. “But when they are coming from external platforms, we cannot control that, and that is where AMP plays a huge role.”
But AMP is still in its infancy, and while early adopters have some advantage over competitors that are not yet on it, retailers are still facing some challenges. For both eBay and Eventbrite, metrics have been an issue. According to Beck Cronin-Dixon, SEO engineer and lead developer for AMP at Eventbrite, the company has been unable to accurately measure conversion because Google’s analytics have been double-counting click-throughs. For eBay, too, it’s hard to trace conversion because AMP pages are hosted by Google’s domain, which eBay doesn’t own.
“One of the biggest challenges so far has definitely been the lack of proper metrics, but that is expected when there are multiple URL domains,” said eBay’s Padmanabhan.