By Alexander Taylor, partnerships director, Picnic Media
If you are a digital publisher, it is likely that you regard Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP), the Google-driven open-source project designed to help web publishers create fast-loading mobile-optimised content, in one of three ways.
The first perspective, and not necessarily an entirely uncommon one, is that AMP is Google’s overbearing pitch to take ownership of the mobile web. Well, alright, that can certainly be argued.
Then there are those who treat it as a necessary evil – a means to accelerate web page speed (a vital ranking factor in Google’s mobile index), and the only way to make it onto Google’s AMP-only news carousel.
And finally there are those publishers who are all over it, for its ability to drive rankings to the top of the page and to push up mobile ad revenues – which, let’s face it, has to be a priority for hard-pressed publishers in a world of revenue-hungry social networks.
The fact is, AMP is a strong monetisation tool for publishers, who have endured thin times in recent years as ingenious, addictive social networks have hoovered up the spoils of digital advertising. Mobile is the battleground now, as desktop continues its decline as a consumer channel, and AMP ad formats offer publishers the opportunity to take a commanding position in the mobile ad market.
Rich-media AMP ad formats, inserted into the kind of high-quality editorial content publishers do so well, can sell for three, five, even six times the price of an ordinary static banner mid-page unit (MPU). For any publisher, that is a highly compelling prospect.
The premium derives from the quality and seamless speed of the format, combined with the lack of advertising clutter on AMP pages, added to the recognition of the publisher’s own high-class content. The only caveat is that AMP pages aren’t monetised quite like ordinary mobile pages, since AMP removes third-party JS tags and replaces them with its own library files. So it might not be a familiar process, but it’s not that hard. We’ll explain to you how it is done.
At the most basic level, all a publisher needs to do is log into Google and get the Google Ad Manager (GAM) plug-in, which gives you an MPU and a mobile banner as your standard AMP formats. For the advanced monetiser, the next step is header bidding using Real-Time Config (RTC), which allows a publisher to request bids simultaneously from up to five different vendors. Google’s DoubleClick is of course the default; other popular demand partners we see are Index Exchange and Xandr.
Then you choose your ad platform and start monetising. At Picnic, we style ourselves as the social display ad marketplace, bringing the premium experiences of social media to the open web. (But clearly, other monetisation partners are available, including outstream video giant Teads and TripleLift, with its Native products.) The strength of Picnic is that we are the AMP specialists – AMP is all we do and it is where we excel.
Traditionally, the process has been that, having installed our format sizes, we would go out and sell your inventory for you, feeding the right brands into your pages.
That is still our conventional way to monetise mobile pages, but in a spirit of benevolence and striking confidence, our new product, Studio, allows publishers to sell our social-style ads for themselves, paying us only a tech fee.
Where previously we might have sold an ad against their inventory via our network, using Picnic Studio publishers can sell the same ad for the same amount or more and take a far larger share of the proceeds. A self-service platform lets them create their own creative in seconds, and there are no upfront costs, just an ad-serving charge. Studio is trialling in the UK, France and the US right now.
Anyone who cares about quality content has a stake in seeing publishers monetising their assets as effectively as possible, especially in the face of the surging social networks. Our money is on the fact that AMP, and Google’s Core Web Vitals, combined with the right ad formats, brings slick, social-style ad experiences to the open web, and publishers who don’t embrace them may be missing out on a lifeline.