By James A. Martin

The next big thing in SEO is AMP, or Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages. Search pros break down AMP and share insights on what you need to know to stay ahead of the curve.

Last year, the search engine optimization (SEO) community was all abuzz about “Mobilegeddon,” or Google’s mobile-friendly search engine algorithm.

This year, the mobile SEO buzz is focused on Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP), though this time there’s less “doomsday” urgency. But what exactly is AMP? Who needs to implement it and why? What are the potential pitfalls? And what role does the IT department play?

We asked a number of SEO experts for answers.

1. What is Google AMP?

AMP is an open source project designed to help web publishers create mobile-optimized content that loads instantly on all devices, according to Google. “We want webpages with rich content like video, animations and graphics to work alongside smart ads, and to load instantaneously,”Google wrote in a blog post. “We also want the same code to work across multiple platforms and devices so that content can appear everywhere in an instant — no matter what type of phone, tablet or mobile device you’re using.”

Google’s goal with AMP is to deliver the best possible mobile experience to its users. “Google wants to get information to the end user as fast as possible,” says Michael Bertin, search marketing expert for digital marketing agency iQuanti. “Google doesn’t want the user to have to wait to read or see something.”

Rudy Galfi, Google’s AMP product manager, said at a recent marketing conference that the median load time for AMP-coded content is 0.7 seconds, according to In comparison, the median load time for non-AMP pages is 22 seconds, or “the time it takes for you to leave the site and never come back,” Galfi said.

On February 23, 2016, Google officially integrated AMP-powered web pages into its mobile search results. AMP-coded pages appear in a mobile search results “carousel,” and they feature an AMP icon that looks like a thunderbolt, as well as the acronym “AMP.”


6. What are Google AMP’s potential pitfalls?

Like any significant technological change, AMP takes some getting used to, according to Petty. “It’s harder to implement at first, but tools, plug-ins and add-ons evolve to make it almost automatic,” he says. “Think of where SEO was a few years ago. Manually hand-coding meta tags and other elements was the norm. Now SEO plug-ins prompt users with exactly what they should do to improve ranking, without having to know SEO.” And an AMP WordPress plug-in “does a pretty good job, and it will evolve over time” to make it simpler for everyone, Petty says.

The main pitfall “is understanding the limitations of the AMP platform,” Enge says. “One of the big reasons AMP is faster is that it restricts how you can code your pages in significant ways.” For example, you have to use an AMP-supplied JavaScript library (if you use JavaScript), which is very limited in what it can do, he says. “Currently, you can’t implement forms unless you use iframes, and even then, they must be below the fold.”

“It’s a bit like going back to the early days of HTML websites, so it may not allow your fancy branded design the way you’re used to doing it or give you all the functionality you’re used to having on your pages,” Enge says. “Effectively, you’re starting your site design over again, but this time you make site speed one of the top two or three requirements. ”

Another downside is that when readers share links to AMP content that they clicked on through a Google search, the links point to URLs, rather than to the content developers’ sites, as pointed out by earlier this year. This change could negatively impact content developers’ site traffic, according to Mike Kisseberth, chief revenue officer of digital content and services firm Purch.

AMP “creates a potential challenge on the analytics side, as it’s impossible to be 100 percent sure where a publisher’s content will be loaded from, as well as complications with visitor identification due to tight cookie restrictions,” says Paulsen.

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By Mike Kisseberth

Marketers and brands have been having a moment with native content, which has evolved into more elaborate stunts and experiences.

This race for consumer engagement, taken to its logical extreme, results in brands like Red Bull literally sending a man into near-space for a death-defying stunt. These types of stunts (and ambitious online native efforts) can be very effective in terms of raising visibility.

Mass-market brands such as Red Bull or Bud Light go to great lengths and expense to model out the contribution of this “content” to the bottom line. This can create an aspirational desire for all brands to march down this content path. Before jumping in, it is important to establish those bottom-line correlations. This will increase the chances of success for the marketer as well as renewal for the publisher.

Unfortunately, in place of those tight models, most native content efforts are typically measured using KPIs that don’t link directly to the bottom line—page views and engagement being some of the most frequent. Again, while these metrics can be loosely related to the bottom line, the link isn’t typically clear enough to justify the five- or six-figure prices some major publishers charge for a single piece of sponsored content. The CMO might buy in, but does the CFO?

Simply attracting a large audience to a piece of content is not enough to guarantee bottom-line results. The pursuit of large audiences can often result in content so far afield from anything to do with the sponsor, it leaves you scratching your head. Large audiences are great, but not without the results to justify the expense.

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By George Slefo

Purch has a portfolio that includes Tom’s Hardware, Business News Daily, and Top 10 Reviews, among others. The media company says it has a combined reach of 100 million monthly users.

The company sees an ad block rate from 9% to 25% domestically across its portfolio, said Mike Kisseberth, chief revenue officer at Purch. “The more technically advanced the user, the more likely they are to block. We definitely see that,” Mr. Kisseberth said. “Our block rates are higher on Tom’s Hardware because those users are more tuned in and are more likely to jump at installing an ad blocker.”

In Europe, ad block rates reach as high as 40% for Purch. “That’s a foreshadowing clue of what’s to come here in the U.S.,” Mr. Kisseberth said. “I think it has been more talked about in Europe and people are taking advantage of it.”

Ad block rates have remained flat year-over-year at Purch. Much of that is likely due to the fact consumers are reading content on mobile phones, where ad blocking is still in its infancy, Mr. Kisseberth said. That might change as consumer adoption grows.

“If you are in this business and you are not using ad blockers you’re crazy,” Mr. Kisseberth said regarding his recent install of ad blocking software on his browser. “It is a better experience and that’s scary.”

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By Sarah Sluis

As private marketplaces have taken off, buyers and sellers have struggled to figure out exactly how to negotiate deals and, once a campaign is live, how to optimize so it actually delivers the expected value. None of the existing models quite work.

Traditionally, sellers optimize direct-sold deals and buyers control programmatic ones. With private marketplaces, the buyer controls the levers but the seller has the insights.

Private marketplaces also change pricing models. Sellers use a rate card to start direct deal negotiations, which can be too expensive for programmatic buyers. However, prices associated with open marketplace auctions can be too low for sellers.

To succeed at private marketplaces, communication must bridge these gaps in pricing and optimization. Buyers and sellers must share data and goals to find a price that works for both sides and send a campaign on a track to success.

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By Sarah Sluis

Some publishers believe programmatic creates a “race to the bottom” for its inventory. Purch, whose portfolio includes TopTenReviews and Tom’s Guide, is taking the opposite approach by using programmatic to establish the baseline value of its media.

This effort, called Purch RAMP (revenue and advertising management platform), will help it create premium, custom advertising opportunities. Call it the race from the bottom.

RAMP starts out solving a familiar problem for publishers: managing header bidding partners. It then saves and stores that bidding information, and applies analytics to understand “the true market value of all our promotional inventory,” said CRO Mike Kisseberth.

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