Behind the Scenes of AMP at Condé Nast

Oscar Perez of Condé Nast explains why they’ve switched on AMP pages across their publishing brands:

As a publisher, implementing AMP was a no-brainer. AMP delivers many benefits in terms of performance, consistency, and experience for our mobile users.

No, not that. This:

AMP increases the visibility and discoverability of our content by allowing it to be included in Google’s Top News Carousel, as well as improving the experience of regular Google search results.

That’s all it is: Google is the world’s most-used search engine and they’ve restricted one of their most prominent features to sites that use AMP, their own fork of HTML.1 And it works, obviously:

We went live with Google AMP on Vanity Fair a little over a year ago. Post-launch, the traffic and search rank results were very positive: click through rate from Google search went from 5.9% (Regular) to 10.3% (AMP), and average search position went from 5.9 (Regular) to 1.7 (AMP). Since then, we have deployed AMP across fifteen of our brands and we have been very pleased with the results. Today, AMP accounts for 79% of our mobile search traffic and 36% of our total mobile visits.

AMP allows website owners a quick and relatively easy way to juice their search rankings. That’s all this is. There are certainly other ways to create a beautiful and fast website, but none of them get a website into the very prominent news carousel at the top of Google search result pages and Google News.

Of course, AMP is not simply a web markup language — it mirrors pages on Google’s own CDN. But that’s a tradeoff publishers seem increasingly happy to make, largely because of Google’s power over their revenue streams. If a publisher generates a lot of their revenue from Google search, Google’s prioritization of AMP effectively requires that publishers adopt it or restructure their business model. In an era where media companies are struggling to cover their costs, that’s an easy choice for many of them to make.

  1. I got a little bit of pushback on Hacker News and Twitter last time I wrote this. Just to be clear: AMP’s specifications require that pages link to this script: For a page to be valid AMP HTML, it must include that JavaScript file, which is hosted by Google. ↥︎