Several major web publishers are abandoning a Google initiative advertised to improve users’ mobile surfing experience, claiming it creates less advertising income.
Vox Media, BuzzFeed, and others are among the companies identified. Instead of adopting Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages framework, which was released in 2015 and is maintained by an open-source working group, Complex Networks and Bustle parent BDG have started testing or are contemplating using their own implementations of mobile-optimized article pages.
The Washington Post already stopped using AMP last summer. A possible withdrawal from AMP would reduce media firms’ reliance on Google.
A history of crippling competitors
The search giant company is a monopoly in digital advertising, which has damaged its relations with publishers and has been included in a December 2020 lawsuit filed by state attorneys general to curb the giant’s anti-competitive practices.
According to a recently unedited version of the lawsuit, AMP pages—housed on Google’s servers—were created precisely to make it more challenging to sell ad space on platforms other than Google’s ad exchange.
It was also claimed that Google created advertisements with a one-second latency that did not use AMP. If that’s not anti-competitive, then we’re not sure what is.
Dropping the big bad gatekeeper
Dropping AMP would allow media executives greater control over their page designs and ad formats, making it easier for them to sell ad space in auctions with a larger number of ad marketplaces using a technique known as header bidding which raises competition and pricing for their ad space.
News organizations and Google have been contentious for years, extending beyond digital advertising. Google has often been challenged by executives from large news companies, notably News Corp, who say it exploits news content in its products without compensating the publishers that produce it.
Mind you, dropping AMP now isn’t as bold of a move as it may appear. Google itself basically made AMP defunct last year, when it announced that AMP would no longer play a role in how a page would rank. As such, it has become rather useless for publishers.