Google AMP Stories want to Snapchat the news

Chris Davies - Feb 13, 2018
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Google AMP Stories want to Snapchat the news

The appetite for news on mobile is increasing, and Google wants to make chewing through it more like Snapchat and less like a chore. The company has revealed its latest project, AMP Stories, taking news content and packaging it into a visual-first format that promises more engagement from attention-short readers.

AMP is a simplified, pared back version of webpages with a focus on mobile use. Rather than heavy, slow-to-load pages that are both a chore and data-intensive to open on smartphones and other mobile devices, AMP pages strip out everything but the essentials. Although not Google’s own handiwork, the company has got behind them in a big way, pushing them heavily in its mobile search results.

AMP Stories is the latest format of AMP. Described as “tappable, full-screen content” it taps into one of the more popular current languages of online storytelling, with tightly integrated photos and video, animations, and more. Though predominantly considered in terms of mobile views, AMP Stories are also designed to work across desktop browsers too.

For Google, it’s another opportunity to guide news content in a way that it sees as best, though it says it helped create AMP Stories with a handful of publishers like CNN, Meredith, and The Washington Post. The outcome is a “visual story” that loads swiftly. It’s hosted as an HTML page on the publisher’s own site, as a separate format to the regular webpage if there is one. Then, search engines like Google and other “discovery platforms” can use things like pre-rendering pages, optimized video loading, and caching to make sure it arrives on the reader’s screen faster.

It’s also focused on making content easier to create in the new format. That means various layout templates with standardized UI controls, which should help both publishers to get up to speed making AMP Stories and readers figure out the typical way to navigate through them. They’re also designed with easy sharing and follow-on content breadcrumbs in mind.

To begin with, Google plans to start including AMP Stories in its search results, starting with a specific domain. However, down the line they’ll spread to other Google products – Google News seems the most likely candidate, of course – in addition to changing how they show up in search. If AMP pages in general are anything to go by, and how Google treats them, publishers will need to embrace the format if they want to stay high up in those results.

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