The Rundown: Google AMP has short-term appeal but potential long-term costs
Publishers, still smarting from blows inflicted by Facebook and its ever-changing news feed, have found some comfort in the warm embrace of Google. Recently, Google surpassed Facebook as a traffic referral source for the first time in a year, according to Parsely.
Google has for years positioned itself as a friend to publishers. Google — like publishers — is dependent on an open web. But Facebook isn’t. Google — like publishers — is in the ad business. But Apple isn’t. Google’s fast-loading article format, Accelerated Mobile Pages, is a strong example of this, delighting many publishers with traffic and monetization.
The charm offensive was on full display at a recent Google press extravaganza to announce tools for news publishers. “We are all-in. We can’t do it without you,” said Philipp Schindler, svp and chief business officer at Google, on the stage.
But as with any distributed platform, audience gains for publishers, while encouraging in the short term, could have longer-term costs. Google’s AMP carousel in search results lets users quickly and easily swipe between pieces of content related to the same topic, but created by various publishers. Some publishers argue this functionality commoditizes their content and limits their ability to build their brands with readers.
AMP’s uniformity should matter to publishers as they strive to differentiate their content, regardless of where people find it. A logo atop a generic page isn’t a great opportunity to do that, some publishers argue. And in the case of subscription publishers, the stakes are particularly high, as they increasingly rely on brand loyalty to turn casual readers into paying customers.
AMP may be open-source, but at the end of the day, it answers to Google. That means Google, to some extent, defines the types of content and editorial formats that publishers can use.
“Do a search on your mobile phone, and you’ll see almost entirely AMP stories,” said a publishing exec who couldn’t speak publicly against Google because the exec’s employer works closely with the tech giant. “Google, without any oversight or community input, is setting the de facto standard for the format of the internet.”
Over time, publishers’ are concerned that the prevalence and heft of Google could stifle innovation outside of Google and leave them hanging. Google could decide to stop supporting AMP, for example. It has acted against publishers’ interests in the past, changing the rules for search and including more information snippets in search results, which has left less room for publisher content.
For now, the traffic and support incentives that Google is throwing behind AMP make it hard for publishers to pass up. So perhaps the best they can do is ensure they wring the most value they can from AMP, while remaining cognizant the party could end at a moment’s notice — just as it did with Facebook.
Publisher and agency executives scrutinize email-based universal IDs as the third-party cookie’s long-term heir apparent
Email-based universal IDs may improve upon the cookie in some ways, but relying upon the email address can introduce privacy concerns.
Member ExclusiveMedia Buying Briefing: A look at the big topics at the Media Buying Summit this week
Media buyers, planners and clients’ efforts to adapt to a changed world will be addressed in a number of ways at Digiday’s Media Buying Summit in Miami this week.
‘It’s an essential story’: A Q&A with The Washington Post’s Krissah Thompson on the outlet’s growing climate coverage
Washington Post managing editor Krissah Thompson discusses the publisher's plans to cover COP26 as climate becomes a "key pillar" of the Post's coverage.
SponsoredHow publishers can future-proof their contextual advertising strategy
Sal Cacciato, managing director, North America, video intelligence The discourse on contextual targeting has moved from “if” to “how.” Publishers are well aware that they need to be packaging their audiences in ways that enable contextual targeting, but many are still asking themselves what is the best way to achieve that goal. In a telling […]
How NBC’s News Group is shaping NBCUniversal’s commerce bets
The nearly 50-person group now oversees two shopping shows, commerce sub-brands across three NBC News properties and direct deal-making for a growing list of sister brands.
Member ExclusiveMedia Briefing: How publishers with teen audiences are making their Instagram presences more inclusive
In this week's Media Briefing, media reporter Sara Guaglione reports on what Bustle and Teen Vogue are doing to make sure their Instagram accounts don't contribute to the platform's reported negative impact on teen girls' wellbeing.