Why AMP is Good for Ads

Often coupled with praise for the speed and user experience of Accelerated Mobile Pages is the caveat that advertising capabilities are still in development. Expectations are being managed; AMP does not offer 1:1 translation of all existing ad formats and technologies.

However, there’s a strong case for AMP’s advertising benefits out of the gate.

AMP provides an immediate opportunity to improve viewability – an acute problem with today’s mobile web. According to Moat, only 44% of mobile ads meet viewability standards. There are two key factors: Load speed and ad placement. Here’s how AMP can help:

Load Speed: Despite the built-in latency of server calls and waterfalls, ads can show up on an AMP page more quickly than a standard mobile page because there’s simply less content and code to load.

For example, the first display ad on this Washington Post article (300×250 position inside the article) appeared in 14.4 seconds on standard mobile view (average of five runs). In the AMP version of the article, the same ad position appeared in 4.7 seconds (average of five runs). In a scrolling mobile environment, ten seconds is easily the difference between a viewable and non-viewable impression.

(Tip: Install our Amplifier Chrome extension to toggle between standard and AMP versions of an article.)

Placement: AMP also allows publishers to rethink and experiment with mobile ad placements. While some publishers already optimize mobile ad positions, many have responsive sites built from a desktop perspective. Right-rail ads which appear above the fold in desktop view end up in the cluttered depths of the mobile page, where viewability is close to zero. With most sites well past the 50% mark in terms of mobile audience, volumes of impressions are rendered ineffective due to suboptimal placements.

For example, MSNBC.com’s article layout offers a 300×250 unit at the top of the right rail, but on standard mobile view that unit is buried beneath a Taboola widget, multiple link circulation widgets and a comments section. On the AMP version, MSNBC is inserting a mobile banner at the top of the article beneath the byline; presently that unit is being used for internal promotion – but this is a great example of leveraging AMP’s speed and “clean slate” layout opportunity to optimize ads.

(Relay Media offers dynamic ad insertion for publishers on our platform; we inject display ads and other units at defined intervals within mobile articles.)

AMP can support as many ads as a publisher wishes to deliver, in optimized positions and with faster load times. Increased content engagement (time spent, views per visit) resulting from vastly improved user experience will amplify the benefit.

The concern that AMP supports fewer ad formats and products prompts a more nuanced discussion. On the product side, many ad tech companies are already integrated with AMP or in development. Companies that have publicly pledged support to integrate with AMP include DoubleClick, AOL, Taboola, Outbrain, Pubmatic, Integral Ad Science, Moat, Krux, and Nativo. The breadth of industry support for AMP reflects the recognition that quality user experience has become a business imperative.

Some ad formats are not – and may never be – compatible with AMP. Some of those formats are commanding premium rates today. Some of them are also driving the spread of mobile ad blockers.

New formats need to emerge, which command premium rates without impairing performance and promoting abandonment and ad blockers which erode the whole system.

Meantime, AMP is gaining traction with prescient publishers and scores of ad tech companies because today’s mobile web ecosystem is already broken. Intricate waterfalls, header bidding and precise targeting have no value if the resulting ads aren’t seen. AMP is not a complete solution (yet) but it’s a unique opportunity to tweak the mobile environment and learn from the result.

Relay Media provides AMP conversion and mobile page optimization. to learn more.