Why publishers must up their game for Google AMP, Facebook Instant Articles

By Xavier van Leeuwe

NRC Media

Amsterdam, The Netherlands


Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) might have a bigger impact on marketers than on journalists.

If you are not familiar with Google AMP, it’s a way to display online articles up to 85% faster on cell phones, so you don’t have to wait after clicking on that killer article. This should ensure  —  like Facebook Instant Articles  —  that the number of dropouts decreases dramatically and reader engagement increases, which I wrote after talking to an insider using Instant Articles in beta.

Paywall on AMP

Google allows publishers to put all their ads on AMP and keep the money. But, better still, you can have a paywall on AMP. This means publishers do not have to give away free articles. They can put a metered model on this distributed platform. An insider at Facebook tells me they are working on that feature, too.

Marketers need to consider how user friendly their shops are on various apps.
Marketers need to consider how user friendly their shops are on various apps.

There is a problem, though. Clicks on fast mobile articles lead to a good customer experience. But a click on a paywall still leads to a slow external link: the Web shop.

As marketers, we will have to develop our landing pages and shops on multiple platforms. This means that we (and other retailers) have to build faster and simpler shops that comply with the speed of the various distributed networks of the future, be it Facebook Instant Articles or Google AMP, Medium, or whoever will be tomorrow’s god. The connections of the shop with the mother systems will have to be faster, too.

Perhaps we have to let the transaction take place first and verify later.

Chrome Custom Tabs

Thomas Baekdal argues in a recent article that the real download problem we have on Facebook is the transition between Web and app. We should solve that instead of all the “nonsense” about Instant Articles, he claims. Google has a solution called Chrome Custom Tabs. Apple should push for the same solution.

Either way, what Instant Articles and Google AMP are teaching me is that most of us have built our subscription Web shops too fat and too slow. Sure, they are adaptive to mobile. But we should all drastically limit loading times to keep up with the articles that are becoming faster and faster. Otherwise the article experience is great, but the paywall shop is a big disappointment.

We now know journalists’ workload increases as they have to prepare each article for each platform. I predict marketers will have quite some work to adapt their shops to all distributed platforms. We have to rethink our entire customer journey so the sale and after sales will go as smoothly as the articles that are read.

The basic rule always applies. The need of the reader dominates. And when the reader is on ultrafast AMP or Instant Articles, thats the benchmark of our shops, too.

About Xavier van Leeuwe

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