AMP for Search & Display Ads: Everything You Need to Know

So you’ve produced a strong paid search advert, with effective targeting, compelling copy, and a persuasive call to action. You’ve won the click, but then… nothing. A slow-loading mobile page has caused another potential customer to ditch your website.


According to Google, more than half of all website visits are abandoned if it takes more than three seconds for a mobile page to load. This stat becomes even more concerning when you consider that the average US retail mobile site takes more than 10.5 seconds to load, according to the latest Keynote Mobile Commerce Performance Index.

Basically, mobile page speed is a pretty big deal, and many mobile sites simply aren’t meeting consumer expectations. That’s why we were so excited to hear about the new AdWords beta that allows fast-loading Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMPs) to be used as paid search ad landing pages.


How Does AMP Work?

We’ve spoken before about how AMPs help to improve speed and user experience on mobile devices. They were first introduced 18 months ago for the “top stories” carousel…

How AMP pages appear in Google's top stories carousel

…before being rolled out further to organic search listings.

AMPs work by ditching most elements that cause pages to render slower on mobile, leading to a much faster load speed (and more engaged users). The performance benefits are substantial: Google has previously said the median load time for an AMP is less than a second, and last month the company announced that these pages are now twice as fast.

AMPs can be broken down into three parts:

  1. AMP HTML: Goes above basic HTML. Strips elements that affect mobile page speed
  2. AMP JS: Ensures that AMP HTML pages render quickly
  3. Google AMP Cache: Stores AMP-optimised content for fast delivery via a content delivery network

Publishers have been quick to take advantage of the AMP project. In May 2016, Google had indexed AMPs on 125 million documents across 640,000 domains. Fast-forward 12 months and these numbers have risen to more than two billion AMP pages from 900,000 domains.


How Will AMP Help Paid Search Ads?

There are actually two parts to Google’s latest extension of the AMP project:

  1. A new beta allowing AMPs to be used as landing pages for paid search ads
  2. Using the technology behind AMPs to speed up the delivery of ads across the Google Display Network

How page load speed hurts conversion rate

Slow page load speed can increase bounce rate

Let’s deal with part one first. By participating in the beta, advertisers will be able to link PPC ads to AMP landing pages. That means anyone who clicks on those adverts will be presented with the same superfast web experience already offered by AMPs through organic search.

This new feature could have a measurable impact on your bottom line. The latest State of Online Retail Performance report from Akamai shows that a 100 millisecond (or one-tenth of a second) delay in load time can cause conversion rates to fall by seven per cent. If that delay increases to two seconds, bounce rates climb by an eye-watering 103 per cent. In short, consumers hate slow websites and are much less likely to buy from them.

Website performance critical to online transactions - Akamai

Now to part two: AMP ads. The end goal – improving ad performance – is the same as part one, but the process is a little different.

Rather than launching as a beta, this change has already been made. Google is now automatically converting a “significant number” of ads that appear on AMPs across the Google Display Network so that they can be delivered via the new AMP ad format. This doesn’t affect the quality or appearance of your creative, but it does mean the ads will load faster – up to five times faster, according to Google.

It’s less easy to quantify the impact this will have on ad performance, but it’s certainly a step forward. Previously, display ads on AMPs took longer to load than the content on the page, while animations in creative often failed to play smoothly or were deactivated by Google. We’d expect to see an improvement in ad engagement, but time will tell how significant this impact proves to be.

Matt Lee, Paid Search Campaign Manager at Return, says: “There’s nothing more infuriating than a slow-loading site after clicking on a remarketing banner or search ad, but with AMP banners loading in less than a second this takes that problem away for our clients and should lead to higher conversion rates on mobiles.”

Want to know more about the latest developments in paid search and display advertising, and how they can work for your brand? As a Google Premier Partner, we know our stuff! Get in touch with us today

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