For publishers there’s one business factor that prevails over all others, distribution. Without bringing their content to the eyes of their audience to guarantee traffic for their content, nothing else really matters for media businesses.
At the same time, in the current communication landscape, it is necessary to take into account another factor related to distribution, the reception channel. In this case, we are talking about the new ways through which users predominantly consume their informative content of choice.
Like we already explained in our report about the story dominance, the way users access content has radically changed in the recent years as they spend more and more time browsing the Internet through their mobile devices*.
In Spain, users spend on average 2 hours and 24 minutes a day surfing the web through their phones, with younger users reaching even 6 hours of daily phone use.
The almighty Google has been analyzing this trend for years, and making important maneuvers to maintain its hegemony in the digital technology sector. Therefore, it’s not surprising that since 2016 it has been promoting the AMP project (Accelerated Mobile Pages) with the aim of improving and accelerating the Internet browsing experience through mobile devices.
Following the mobile-first movement, in February 2018, Google presented to the world its new twist for the AMP project, Stories. A direct move to follow in the wake of social media platforms like SnapChat, Facebook, and Instagram.
AMP Stories follow the general philosophy of the AMP framework, and seek to complement the overall AMP project by bringing to the table an engaging and visual way to consume content in a full-screen format designed 100% for smartphones.
Relevant Characteristics of AMP Stories for Publishers
Overall, we can state that AMP Stories provide publishers with a new format offering visually attractive content that improves the experience of article and news consumption on smartphones. It does so by squeezing the full potential of videos, images, graphics and audio without sacrificing user experience by guaranteeing good performance and loading speed.
“The key is to offer publishers the option to communicate news and disseminate information through a visually attractive format 100% adapted to mobile devices.”
In addition to the technical and content factors of AMP Stories, Google brings to the table some very interesting incentives for publishers. As we said at the beginning of this article, one of the most relevant factors for publishers is content distribution and reach. And this is where AMP Stories take on their main relevance, by offering publishers prominent positions to place content in AMP Story format to drive traffic to their sites.
Google began to offer 3 positions for AMP Stories throughout the results page (although several of these positions are not yet enabled for all geographic markets):
- On mobile, within a new featured block called “Visual Stories”.
- On a mobile, in the image result section, with a new option called “Swipe to visit”.
- On desktop, throughout organic results, with a cover image of relevant AMP Stories.
In turn, starting in October 2020, Google began to place AMP Stories in a new section within the popular Google Discover*, a space available to all of Google’s mobile app users that presents a curated and personalized content feed based on the interests and personal habits of each user.
At this moment, more than 800 million users access Google Discover’s functionality every day. Therefore, it is not surprising that many publishers would want to position their content in story format in this new and sought-after space.
*For now, AMP Stories are only shown in the US, Indian and Brazilian markets, but everything indicates that Google will begin to expand in a very short time to other markets and Google products.
Other Key Factors of AMP Stories for Publishers
The benefits of AMP Stories are not limited to being just a new distribution channel. They also bring to the table several additional advantages that publishers cannot afford to ignore:
- Interaction and loyalty: the rapid load times of this content format reduces the bounce rate persistent among the most impatient users. The intrinsic operation of story content generally also translates into greater user interaction with the content and long-term loyalty.
- Scope and competitiveness: in addition to the SEO factor that we have talked about previously, AMP Stories can be easily shared openly through the web and can be integrated into any website without the limitations of a closed environment such as stories on social networks. This allows publishers to differentiate themselves from their competitors by employing a format that users enjoy and are already used to after years of being exposed to stories on so many social channels.
- One of the best formats for storytelling: storytelling is the heart of the media business and stories are one of the best formats to give free rein to editorial teams so they can make the most of the entire repertoire of audiovisual formats to tell stories in the visual language that consumers crave for.
- Robust advertising support: the delivery of full-screen ads, perfectly integrated between the editorial content, allows AMP Stories to enjoy a magnificent viewability rate and very interesting CPM and CPC prices for publishers compared to other advertising formats. In turn, Google has made it clear that it intends to offer AMP Stories as an additional advertising format in its repertoire for advertisers, (probably through its DFP platform). Therefore, Stories will become a very interesting new programmatic advertising income stream in the very near future.
Some publishers who’ve already begun to experiment with this format
With all these advantages, it is not surprising that numerous, and relevant publishers, have begun creating content in this new format. Some of them, like CNN, Vice and The Washington Post, started years ago with a pilot project promoted by Google itself. But many others have followed suit and started implementing AMP Stories in their editorial lines independently.
One example of this is Boost’s content creation team, who began testing AMP Stories to make their content more attractive and easy to consume. Before, they were having problems with the engagement levels of their written articles, so they opted to switch to the AMP Stories format.
Quickly, they managed to improve key metrics such as:
- Increased the time on page (which went from 20 seconds to almost 4 minutes).
- Reduced bounce rate.
- Increased the percentage of content consumed (making 87% of your readers reach the end of the content).
As we’ve seen throughout this article, AMP Stories offer a long list of benefits for publishers. The fact that it is a format and project promoted by Google is clearly a factor that must be considered. But the reality is that the benefits of AMP Stories are not limited to being a new channel for obtaining traffic, it is also a way for publishers to adapt to the new mobile-first trend and the change in content consumption habits of the readers on which publishers rely to be economically viable.
We at Pendular cannot recommend more strongly that publishers consider employing this format. And for this, we put at your disposal our entire technological tool set for web stories that will allow you to create, publish and monetize stories on your website and export them to the AMP version easily with a simple and intuitive CMS, so that you do not lag behind the competition.
If you and your publisher want to start working with the web story format, do not hesitate to contact us and request a short demo.