Happy new year!!! One year ago we announced our New Year’s resolution to help the open-source ecosystem become a little bit more sustainable. This is our one year funding report. For 2019 we intend to continue on our path with significantly increased investment.
We believe it is increasingly clear that relying on people’s volunteered free time to drive mission critical open source software is not a sustainable mode of operation. As a community we need to find new ways to fund the valuable work on such projects. We strive to provide at least some financial support to projects that we directly depend on and that are accepting support.
Last year 400 of us gathered in AMPsterdam to share the latest AMP news, and learn from the hundreds of developers engaged with the open source project. The framework has continued to evolve since our time in the Netherlands, including a new governance model and many new publishers and e-commerce websites building with AMP. In fact, we’ve seen remarkable results and growth across the Asia-Pacific region in particular. With recent examples like Indian publisher Times of India, Australian car insurance website Greenslips.co.au, and Japanese CMS EC-Cube.
This is why we’re thrilled to invite you to join us at the next AMP Conf being held in Tokyo on April 17 and 18. Come to learn from those working on contributing to AMP, those using the format, and the new committees managing the project’s governance. Whether you speak English or Japanese, you’ll find the talks engaging as we’ll be translating all the presentations into both languages. We’ll have speakers from the web developer community, core AMP contributors and companies and websites who have implemented AMP. Additionally get the latest updates on AMP stories, AMP for email and AMPHTML ads.
We also want to continue the tradition of including the broader community voices by inviting you to submit ideas for talks. We want to hear about the most interesting things you’ve done with AMP, your challenges with AMP in production, how you’ve approached building AMP pages or how AMP’s place in the web ecosystem.
To apply for a spot at this year’s AMP Conf, fill out this registration form. You can also express interest to apply for a limited number of scholarships for those who may need travel support, especially from underrepresented communities. If you’re unable to attend in person, we’ll be recording and live streaming all of the talks, so subscribe to the AMP YouTube channel to catch those videos.
Stay tuned for details on the specific talk agenda as we get closer to the event! We look forward to seeing many of you in Tokyo in less than 100 days!
Posted by Matt Ludwig, AMP Project marketing lead at Google
At LaterPay, our mission is to turn casual users into paying customers for digital content or services such as journalism, videos, and software. Our technology enables payments and micropayments without upfront registration and payment, facilitating the “use now, pay later” approach. This allows users to consume paid content and services on the internet with one or two clicks — without prior registration or having to pay in advance. It is only when the online tab’s limit is reached that users are prompted to register and pay via one of many popular payment methods. By decoupling purchases from payments, LaterPay lowers the entry thresholds for users to consume digital goods and services.
It’s almost exactly a year since we announced the launch of AMP Access LaterPay, the first AMP-enabled paywall and subscription platform that can be utilized by all publishers. The platform integrated LaterPay directly into AMP pages, allowing publishers to easily include a paywall and subscription model, in their AMP monetization strategy.
One year later, however, we continue to be amazed at how slowly the industry is moving to leverage AMP. After launching with our first customers in the US this year, and we wanted to encourage publishers to more embrace the solution and to share the lessons that we at LaterPay have learned when it comes to implementing new and innovative approaches to subscription growth.
1. Publishers should consider new monetization strategies.
The industry needs to embrace the opportunity that technology companies offer, rather than appearing more focused on explaining the reasons for failure.
One remark that repeatedly came up in connection to AMP was the claim that “Google just built AMP in order to have another way of delivering its ads to people. We don’t really trust it.” The first time I heard this it blew my mind since it’s 100% false, and it has continued to puzzle me ever since. It got me thinking about whether publishers truly prioritize user experience (an argument could be made that they probably do not) and whether they want to do business based on journalism or if they just want to keep shadow boxing an imaginary opponent who silently serves as a scapegoat for their woes.
We’ve had to engage in many educational conversations backed by hard numbers in order to explain and demonstrate how publishers can use AMP to generate incremental revenues and try out different monetization models, like the ones integrated in the LaterPay conversion funnel. What they liked best is that with AMP and LaterPay they are able to create their own conversion funnel by mixing up engagement models and payment models.
2. With great user experience driving AMP adoption, publishers should embrace technologies that bridge AMP and HTML
Publishers who truly care about a better user experience and delivering fast content need to put AMP to use and then figure out ways to monetize the traffic. The stories of how Jeff Bezos supported super-fast load times at the Washington Post, together with research proving that each second of page load time loses up to 20% of their users, probably convinced many publishers that user experience matters and fast content delivery is crucial in today’s digital world, where users start tapping on the table in impatience if they don’t see something on their screen within two seconds.
While the Post, the New York Times and a few other publishers can monetize AMP traffic outside of the advertising space, the majority cannot do so. In fact, we often hear in discussions with publishers that almost anyone who is not a top 10 publisher has the same problem: they need ways to monetize AMP content but can’t afford to build their own solution like the Post or the Times.
Nic Newman from Reuters helped identify the reason. He postulated that publishers with existing paywalls start to reach a plateau – a saturation in subscribers – at which point they simply have to think about how to continue growing. This has to happen by looking at anything supporting or complementing subscriptions and this is where LaterPay can help. AMP offers a chance to test monetization outside of existing subscription models – and this is where we started to find open doors.
3. Publishers should leverage AMP to engage and convert consumers in to paying customers.
We had to make sure publishers understood the unique value proposition that LaterPay brings to the table in general – and also specifically in the context of AMP – in order not to be dismissed as just “doing something with payments.”
We positioned LaterPay to publishers as a “metered model 2.0” that complements subscriptions and generates incremental revenues while also offering a frictionless way to monetize AMP traffic. The AMP spin is to understand that users who are not yet subscribers but have an impulse to contribute to the publisher should be given a tool to make a monetary contribution with a single click, and only be required to pay later. This works either via our contributions model (contribute now, pay later) or the single purchase model (read now, pay later). Impulse purchases have to be facilitated within seconds or they are gone and our own numbers show that 78% of all purchases enabled by LaterPay’s technology on publishers’ sites are made within 7 seconds.
Using LaterPay as a means to identify and segment heavy news consumers – consumers who are more likely to pay – across websites also helps publishers upsell users into higher priced models and create tailored offerings for them. We introduced the idea of monetizing both regular and AMP content outside subscriptions with the goal of establishing the value of the content, nurturing that value and then generating potential subscribers over time. We believe that this will help publishers understand and monetize their audience across platforms.
We backed this up by several examples, like the one small publisher, Kevelaerer Blatt, who, since starting to use LaterPay, generates 35% from selling individual articles and 53% from subscriptions, with now 200% in growth of subscription revenues.
Establishing value with every click is a path to onboarding users and converting them into paying users. Combining a la carte models to harness the great user experience that AMP offers with time passes to establish value and to practice nurturing value, in order to increase overall revenues and to increase the number of subscribers, is essential.
From LaterPay’s perspective, AMP is a huge boon to publishers, making it fast and easy to engage an audience that is increasingly prioritizing mobile search over desktop. And yet the industry continues to drag its feet. Given that AMP was designed specifically to provide a consistent experience, with rapid page-loads, isn’t it time that we all embrace it?
Over the past year we’ve been extremely excited to share that AddThis released Share Buttons available as an AMP component. Our team has been tracking the AMP project since its announcement in 2016. As the web becomes increasingly mobile, it’s important for publishers to transform into this mobile era. At AddThis, we want to make sure that we’re part of this new community and bringing value to publishers.
Our first task was figuring out what we should initially build. We love iteration here at AddThis, so we asked ourselves what our smallest usable feature set could be to ship, and then over time, we could expand our features and product offerings. AddThis offers many different tool types, but our sharing tools are by far our most used. We decided that our best bet was to get sharing supported in AMP first, and then eventually invest in adding more features and more website tools. With that in mind, we decided our Inline Share Buttons and Floating Sharing Sidebar were best suited for our first AMP release.
Building for AMP
The AddThis team is no stranger to building for and working with open-source projects. What struck us most was how supportive the AMP development community was as we went on our journey of building our extension for best-in-class sharing and social engagement tools. As soon as we declared our intent to build support, the AMP team worked with us at every stage of the process. As we hit roadblocks, we all worked together to come to solutions that made the most sense for AddThis and AMP. From submitting our first PR right up to the present day, it has been great watching such a helpful community thrive.
What’s the benefit of using AddThis Share Buttons?
Our Share Buttons come with more than 200+ global social networks and services, auto-personalized for your website visitors. Not to mention, you can customize the buttons to match your design needs.
We also provide an analytics dashboard with all our free tools to give you basic metrics such as site visits and referral data, as well as powerful statistics on sharing trends in real time and over the last 24 hours, including:
What content is being shared and driving traffic back to your site
How visitors are sharing, including address bar copy/pasting
Sharing breakdown by mobile and desktop
Email alerts when important spike changes occur
Additionally, our 24-hour support team is always on call, ready to answer any questions you may have.
We believe users should still have the same functionality on AMP that they have on other platforms, such as WordPress. With that in mind, we’ve recently released our Inline Share Buttons and we’re dedicated to making additional website tools available as an AMP component.
In the past year, the AMP team took advantage of the latest browser features to keep users safe & deliver a jank-free browsing experience. Because AMP powers billions of ads and pages on the web, these updates required no work from content creators or ad networks, making all AMP pages safer and faster for all users. Additionally we directly funded the implementation of the underlying security primitives in WebKit, so we’re happy to be able to extend the same security level to users of Apple’s Safari browser.
Iframe Sandboxing FTW
Iframe sandboxing allows web developers to set restrictions on iframe capabilities (e.g. the rendering of display ads). AMP now uses this feature to sandbox all ads, eliminating attacks such as auto-redirecting which could previously be performed by ads.
Ensures navigation from within an ad only happens on user action.
Removes any sandbox restrictions on the landing page of the ad.
Initially users were only protected on Chrome. So we funded Igalia to add these features (link, link) and many others to WebKit, Safari’s open source browser engine. All users on Safari, Chrome and other browsers that support the underlying sandbox primitives (about 75% of mobile web usage) are protected from auto-redirects.
Aggressively Deprecating Synchronous Requests
Synchronous requests are bad for user experience because they can completely block all user interaction with a page until the network request succeeds or fails.
Since display ads don’t pay for the externality (e.g. web page jank) they create, they have no incentive to write the most efficient code. Not only does this result in a bad page experience, this opens up a bad vulnerability that could help the ad creator. The most obvious way to drive up viewability of an ad is to fire off some heavy synchronous requests as soon as the ad gets into the viewport. This results in the ad creator earning better viewability while the page experience suffers dearly.
Thankfully, Chrome now allows a feature policy called ‘control Synchronous XMLHttpRequest’ that allows deprecating sync XHRs on iframes.
AMP launched this feature policy for all ads served to AMP pages. We are also experimenting with implementing this for all iframes on AMP pages.
Scaling Impact with AMP
Millions of content creators have published AMP pages so far and 100+ ad networks have integrated with AMP. We’ve been able to roll out these changes to hundreds of millions of users without any new work from the content creator or the ad network. All it took was a few lines of code submitted to AMP’s open source repo.
One of the less obvious advantages of AMP is its ability to keep up with the latest browser features and automagically bring the entire ecosystem running on the safest & most user-friendly slice of the web. For a website owner, a one time investment in AMP provides ongoing dividends.
It’s a humbling opportunity to advance the web at this scale, make it safe and deliver an excellent user experience for everyone. What are some other features that we can ship to a large part of the internet in 2019? Let us know.
Posted by Vamsee Jasti, Product Manager at Google, AMP Project
Posted by Alberto Medina, AMP and WordPress Developer Advocate, Google
Enabling a first-class AMP experience on WordPress is one of the ways the AMP Project aims to bring a user-first experience to websites and content on the web. There has been a lot of work over the last year to improve the quality of the official AMP plugin and today we are releasing version 1.0-stable of the Official AMP Plugin for WordPress.
Version 1.0 of the plugin integrates AMP content creation seamlessly with standard WordPress content creation workflows across both classic editing, or Gutenberg-based editing. In particular, a native AMP experience is supported in this release, allowing for WordPress sites to be built entirely with AMP, without a duplicate AMP version of a page in ‘paired mode’.
Features and capabilities of the 1.0 release include:
Content sanitizers: to help substituting HTML tags for their corresponding AMP components ones, implement optimizations, and feed validation information to the plugin compatibility’s tool (see below)
Compatibility tool: to assist the development of AMP experiences by enabling AMP debugging based on exposing extensive and detailed information about validation errors that may exist, the markup/scripts causing them, and the specific components on site (e.g theme, plugin, core) bearing the responsibility of that page content.
CSS Tree Shaking: to assist in the process of putting the CSS-house in order in cases where existing CSS rule exceed the maximum limited permitted on single AMP pages.
Core theme support: enabling full AMP validity for four default themes (i.e. 2015, 2016, 2017, 2019).
Gutenberg integration: enabling AMP content creation fully integrated with Gutenberg, the new and powerful editing experience in WordPress.
Native AMP experiences support: enabling full-site AMP experiences without sacrificing by one-bit the flexibility of the platform, or the fidelity of content.
A myriad of code, performance, and developer experience improvements: from customization flexibility, to better UI flows, internationalization, accessibility, etc. Check the full list in the release post.
Opti-in/Opt-out support: all functionality is available in an opt-in manner. And users that do opt-in have the option of enabling AMP only on specific sections of their site, and also disable AMP at a granular level (e.g. on a single post)
Compatibility enforcement: to ensure that a site stays AMP compatible and that only AMP-valid content is ever served
We invite you to try the new release by:
Upload the plugin to the /wp-content/plugins/ directory in your site
Activate the plugin through the ‘Plugins’ menu in WordPress
If you currently use older versions of the plugin in Classic mode, it is strongly encouraged to migrate to Paired or Native mode
The official AMP plugin for WordPress provides essential tools and functionality for AMP content creation, the WordPress way. It is important to note that the plugin is not a completely turn-key solution to “AMPlify your site”, but instead functions as a key enabling technology for a fully AMP compatible WordPress ecosystem.
The journey ahead is one along the road of ecosystem adoption. As we advance on this road, more plugins and themes will be available with full AMP-compatibility provided out-of-the-box, and site owners will easily find AMP-compatible components to assemble full sites when selecting plugins from WordPress.org plugins/themes page.
In the future, we expect there to be turn-key solutions site owners can leverage to easily provide awesome AMP experiences regardless of their level of savviness. Our ultimate aim is for high-quality AMP content in WordPress-powered sites to be ubiquitous.
Join us as we continue on this journey and please share your feedback on the latest release. We’re enthusiastic about the potential the plugin has to improve the user experience on the web and look forward to what is ahead.