Publishers find Google AMP loads too fast for ad views
One person’s page speed is another person’s monetization problem.
Six publishing sources, requesting anonymity out of fear of angering Google, said their ads load slower than their content on AMP, and that is part of the reason why they make less money per pageview from AMP than they do from their own websites. In one instance, the revenue per page on AMP was less than half of what the publisher got on its owned and operated properties. In effect, the user experience is almost too good, with content loading so fast that people scroll past the ads before they’ve been able to load, resulting in ads that aren’t deemed viewable.
But these publishers had trouble isolating how much of this discrepancy is due to how AMP loads content since AMP’s standardization also restricts page design, article recirculation and the type of ad units that publishers can use, and each of these variables makes it more difficult for publishers to make money on the platform. However, they agreed the gap between content and ads loading persists even though Google has worked on the issue since AMP launched about 20 months ago.
“There are a variety of issues around AMP with ads, and the fact that AMP [editorial content] loads ‘too fast’ is definitely among them,” said a publishing exec.
If Google forced advertisers to cut down their tracking code, reduce the size of their creative or do extra work to implement special tags for AMP ads, it would piss off clients that collectively push billions of dollars through the search giant’s products. But by loading content faster than the ads, Google makes it harder for publishers to make money on AMP. Since Facebook Instant Articles is frustrating publishers, appeasing them could benefit Google by giving it an edge over its rival.
Google acknowledges upfront that the goal of AMP is to improve user experience and page speed first, and figure out monetization second.
“The aim of AMP is to load content first and ads second,” said a Google spokesperson. “But we are working on making ads faster. It takes quite a bit of the ecosystem to get on board with the notion that speed is important for ads, just as it is for content.”
Getting text to load fast is simply easier than quickly loading ads with high-resolution imagery and multiple tracking tags. Rather than blame Google, one publishing source blamed advertisers and their heavy creatives for slow-loading ads within AMP.
A perverse incentive is in play: The quicker AMP loads content, the more noticeable the lag on ad load becomes. And it’s not just publishers that are affected. If Google’s exchange sold the ads that users scroll past without seeing, then Google also loses out on a chance to make money.
But there is a bigger issue than driving CPMs with fast-loading article templates. In the long run, it’s in Google’s best interest to maintain its dominance in search, and one way to keep people engaged on the open web is to speed up webpages, even if that means sacrificing some short-term revenue.
Publishers, which are already dependent on search traffic, are scared of acting against the platform’s wishes, even if that means adopting a platform where some ads don’t load in time for the user to see, said Paul Vincent, CEO of Neuranet, a tech company that helps publishers comply with Interactive Advertising Bureau specs for fast-loading ads.
“The whole reason that publishers are considering AMP is that Google gives AMP pages prioritization in search,” he said.
‘We’re netting out with higher revenue’: Publishers reaping the benefits of Snapchat’s strong second half
With CPMs up as much as 20% year over year in the fourth quarter, many Discover publishers are bullish on the upstart platform for next year.
How Cosmo is building brand affinity with younger audiences through its focus on commerce
Cosmopolitan's focus on e-commerce through a line of branded wines and its own shopping holiday has led to a 254% increase in product sales.
‘Go to market faster’: The Washington Post’s Arc goes outside the tent for payment and data integrations
Subscriber revenue has become more of a priority to the Washington Post's Arc clients since it launched its subscription tools last year.
SponsoredPublishers will lead the charge as cookie-less advertising becomes the norm
Steve Wing, managing director, EMEA, Magnite As the advertising industry moves closer to a cookieless world — one in which browserless environments including connected TV (CTV) and mobile in-app are an increasingly large part of ad budgets — publishers will have an increasingly important role in developing the future of identity. Segment creation and identity […]
‘Profitability in the back half of next year’: BuzzFeed CEO Jonah Peretti (and Verizon Media CEO Guru Gowrappan) on their big merger
A special Digiday podcast episode features Interviews with BuzzFeed CEO Jonah Peretti and Verizon Media CEO Guru Gowrappan.
‘A digital Madison Square Garden’: How Complex reimagined the sponsorship opportunities for ComplexLand
The online event, which will combine music, conversation, gaming and shopping in an online world, will have 60 sponsors.