In May, Facebook lifted the curtain on Instant Articles, a native publishing platform that hosts articles directly on the social network. For Facebook, which already serves as the largest source of referral traffic for many online publishers, Instant Articles is a way to keep Facebook users from leaving the social network–and for Facebook users, the fast-loading pages are an attractive option, especially on mobile.
On Wednesday, Google launched the open-source Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) project–what appears to be a response to Instant Articles–in an effort to make web pages load more quickly and improve the mobile user experience. At a press event in New York, Richard Gingras, Google’s head of news and social, skirted the question of whether AMP was being positioned as a competitor to Facebook’s product, according to TechCrunch. Instead, he claimed that the project “is about making sure the world wide web is not the world wide wait—that’s where we’re focused.”
The project will create web pages that use the open-source AMP HTML, which Google says will let sites “build light-weight webpages.” Now, when publications post a story, they can publish two versions of the same page–a regular page, and one that is AMP-enabled. Google claims that it won’t prioritize AMP pages in search results, but given that Google ranks faster pages higher, it’s clear that publishers would benefit from having AMP-enabled links. “There are many signals we use in generating results,” Gingras said at the event, according to TechCrunch. “One signal we use is indeed performance. What approach the publisher takes to achieve performance is up to them.” Google is also offering publishers the option of distributing content through its cache for free.
Google has partnered with a vast number of publishers for AMP’s launch, including brands like Vox Media, BuzzFeed, the Guardian, and the Washington Post–all of which already have AMP-enabled pages. One of Google’s major partners is Twitter, as previously reported by Re/code, which means that embedded tweets and Vines will be supported on AMP pages. AMP links will also load quickly when accessed through Twitter.
Google will not be taking a cut of ad revenue created through AMP, though some ads might not run on AMP pages if they interfere with loading times. David Besbris, VP of engineering at Google Search, noted during the event that some “limitations” will be placed on types of ads. Google is also working on making AMP pages compatible with paywalls and subscription-based sites.
Today’s Google AMP launch is largely for developers, so users won’t see pages loading faster through Google search just yet. The open-source code is available via GitHub.