Publishers struggle with AMP page monetization

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Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) initiative has gained significant traction in the past 12 months, and high-profile publishers such as The New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Hearst are among the many companies that have adopted AMP.

According to a DoubleClick study conducted earlier this year that looked at various performance metrics of AMP pages across 150 publisher sites, the majority of publishers using AMP saw increased eCPMs.

But now, The Wall Street Journal is reporting that many publishers using AMP are seeing their AMP pages generate substantially less revenue than their non-AMP mobile pages. According to the Journal, “Multiple publishers said an AMP pageview currently generates around half as much revenue as a pageview on their full mobile websites.”

One of the reasons for the lower revenue is likely that while AMP supports around 75 different ad providers, including many of the largest, there are fewer types of ad units available. “AMP pages rely heavily on standardized banner ad units, and don’t allow publishers to sell highly-customized ad units, sponsorships or pop-up ads as they might on their own properties,” The Wall Street Journal’s Jack Marshall explained.

Those ad units that AMP doesn’t support might make it easier for publishers to maximize their revenue, but some of them, particularly pop-ups, are the very ad units that degrade user experience.

For now, Google is satisfied with AMP’s ad capabilities and Richard Gingras, Google’s VP of news, suggests that some publishers are seeing lower ad revenue on their AMP pages because they’re not taking full advantage of AMP’s ad capabilities. That said, he acknowledged that AMP is in its early stages.

“We want to drive the ecosystem forward, but obviously these things don’t happen overnight,” Gringas stated. “The objective of AMP is to have it drive more revenue for publishers than non-AMP pages. We’re not there yet.”

AMP is probably the future, regardless of revenue considerations

Despite the fact that Google is aware that some publishers adopting AMP are generating less revenue as a result, it will likely have time to improve AMP’s capabilities. That’s because publishers by and large seem prepared to stick by AMP, even if it’s costing them money in the short term.

One reason for this is that AMP traffic is growing. According to CNN chief product officer Alex Wellen, 20% of CNN’s search traffic now goes to the news outlet’s AMP pages, and AMP traffic has increased by 80% in the past two months.

The other reason publishers are giving AMP the benefit of the doubt is that they strongly suspect Google will favor AMP pages in a big way going forward. As one publisher put it, “Publishers who are not using AMP will probably be penalized.” Even if that doesn’t come to pass, the expectation that Google will increasingly favor AMP pages over non-AMP pages will probably remain a powerful motivator for publishers to adopt it regardless of revenue considerations.

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