Major Publishers Are Working on an AMP Exit Strategy

Alexandra Bruell, Wall Street Journal:

Companies including Vox Media LLC, BuzzFeed Inc.’s Complex Networks and Bustle parent BDG said they have started testing or are considering using their own versions of mobile-optimized article pages, instead of building them using the Accelerated Mobile Pages framework, which Google introduced in 2015 and is supported by an open-source working group. The Washington Post has gone a step further, abandoning AMP last summer.

A potential exit from AMP would make media companies slightly less reliant on Google, whose dominance in digital advertising has strained its relationship with publishers and been referenced in a December 2020 lawsuit by state attorneys general alleging anticompetitive behavior.

About a year ago, Google stopped artificially boosting AMP pages in its search engine. Publishers may have found the format a worthwhile trade-off when Google restricted results in the news carousel for mobile users, but not any more. Good riddance.

I am amused that publishers are working on specific mobile versions of their websites again. The whole point of smartphone web browsers was that WAP — not that — versions were no longer needed; smartphones could render webpages just the same as a desktop computer. Responsive design helped optimize layouts so webpages could fit better on a smaller screen. But publishers jammed pages so full of video ads and tracking scripts and giant images that a mobile version seems to make sense again. A few CSS media queries cannot get rid of all of that junk.

An alternative is to make webpages without so much needless tinsel so they load quickly and work great regardless of what device someone may be using, but that is just too much to ask.