07/24/2016
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AMP Conference 2017 Take-Aways

04/12/2017
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Introduction

This is the second of two AMP blog entries. The first, Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) 101", went over the basics of what AMP is. This current entry, will go over the main take-aways from the conference.

Generally Speaking/TL;DR

Just moments after the conference began, I sensed an overall feeling of apprehension; and no, my feeling wasn't a result of airline food. As skilled stakeholders, many attendees brought these concerns up throughout the conference, concerns such as:

  • potentially privileged rankings in search results for AMP pages,
  • perceived, centralized ownership by Google (e.g. AMP Cache, AMP Viewer),
  • lack of democratized governance for AMP

Fortunately, these worries were indeed addressed. Nevertheless, the doubting atmosphere maintained a presence in the room. I would, however, venture to say that this is expected due to the newness of AMP and its elusive definition and usefulness in the grand scheme of mobile web.

In spite of the uncertainty in the air during the conference, I made sure to focus on the high energy of the yea-sayers and most important, those that had data-backed, fully implemented, production AMP pages out there already. Bottom line, it seems that AMP is full of life right now. Its longevity remains to be seen, but it is wise of us, at HomeAway.com, to go beyond just delving into AMP.

AMP != Search Ranking

One of the foremost concerns at the conference was the fear that AMP pages would automatically get higher search rankings just for being AMP pages. Google denied this accusation, reiterating the genesis of the AMP Project. There is, however, the argument of how current (as of Spring 2017) AMP pages are positioned above the fold, in the AMP carousel, listed with their AMP Badges. My guess is that this above-the-fold, AMP carousel won't always be the case, but the fact is, there is an obvious SEO effect. Want proof? Grab your mobile device, launch a browser, go to google.com, search for "Fox News". You should get something similar to my snapshot below.

Incidentally, tap on one of the carousel cards and first-hand experience the blazing speed of AMP pages!

AMP != Google

Lack of democratization was another misgiving that attendees expressed. For example, one of the first panels during the conference discussed the concern that the AMP content delivery network (CDN), known as the AMP cache, is not de-centralized because Google was, initially, the only host. The worry, of course, was that Google would have a monopoly on this CDN. Furthermore, this anti-democratization worry also manifested itself in the AMP validator that most were aware of as the one found in Google Chrome developer tools. This validator was inaccurately seen as the only one in existence. Finally, attendees were uneasy with the thought that the AMP Javascript project, had a core team of Googlers. This last concern can be dismissed if we all come together as a development community and contribute the AMP project, as it is open sourced.

Luckily, one of the presenters at the conference was Cloudflare, who alleviated some of the above by spreading the word about their non-Google, AMP cache. This was a huge step forward for the AMP community, especially in terms of the democratization of AMP. Even more, one of the cool things that Cloudflare presented was their AMP validator that you can cURL, lending itself to build pipelines. Again, this is a huge step toward democratizing AMP and making it != Google.

Miscellaneous Take-Aways

Following are some other take-aways from the conference. These, in and of themselves, warrant a separate blog entry for each. In here, however, I will only mention them in brief and leave the door open for external discussion.

  • Dynamic AMP
    There was a general concern about AMP pages only being static content. This was addressed during presentation that used amp-bind to create a mobile chat app–albeit impractical–used to illustrate that AMP pages can, within reason, host dynamic content with forms, fields, etc.
  • Ads in AMP
    The overarching misgiving about using advertising in AMP pages was the fact that prior to the (then) new amp-ad tag. Before then, AMP developers had to use i-frames to embed non-AMP ads in their pages. This, of course, defeated much of the purpose of AMP. But, again, the relatively new, amp-ad tag rectified this problem–albeit, still a work in progress. Suggest viewing the "Better Advertising on a Faster Web" presentation at the conference.
  • PWAMP
    AMP used in conjunction with PWA is a powerful combination. This was a recurring side note throughout the conference; and the "Progressive Web AMPs..." presentation was a good primer on the concept.
  • AMP as W3C Standard
    There was a strong desire for having the AMP philosophy and specifications become W3C standards.
  • AMP Governance
    Basically, attendees brought up the point that we, the community, might seriously consider having some governance around AMP.

Resources

AMP 101 Blog Post

Medium Post: Takeaways from the First Google AMP Conference

AMP Project Site

GitHub Repo

Getting Access to the AMP Slack Channel

AMP Conference Videos

Tutorial: Create Your First AMP Page

Credits

Hero Image photo (at top) credit goes to Ksenia Coulter, which she posted in her Medium blog post, Takeaways from the First Google AMP Conference.


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