AMP Stories: Google unveils a new format for storytelling

Interactive storytelling
By Annabel Hodges, contributor. 27 February, 2018
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Following on from the launch of its Accelerated Mobile Pages project two years ago, Google has now expanded its AMP format with the unveiling of AMP stories. The stories format builds on the foundation of the original faster loading, mobile-focused AMP initiatives and adds a visual, interactive storytelling layer. This will allow Google to directly compete with Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook’s existing Discover/Stories products.

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What exactly is AMP stories?

According to Google AMP product manager, Rudy Galfi, AMP stories are "a visually-driven format for evolving news consumption on mobile,". Brands can now use AMP to build entire stories that can be swiped through and will include images, video and animation. Galfi describes stories as providing “novel ways to tell immersive stories” without the “prohibitively high start-up costs, particularly for small publishers”. “AMP stories aim to make the production of stories as easy as possible from a technical perspective,” he adds.

Novel ways to tell immersive stories, without the prohibitively high start-up costs, particularly for small publishers.

The stories format will also be launched within Gmail. According to Google, this will allow brands to provide more interactive experiences within the email platform and even mean users will be able to complete tasks directly within their email. Here’s a basic example of an AMP story.

And here's how People magazine are taking advantage of the new format.

Google has been working with a number of publishers prior to the official launch and has made some impressive case studies including a Black Panther guide in collaboration with Mashable and a Space Photos of the Week story in collaboration with Wired.

Other initial test brands included Time Inc., Vox, The Washington Post, CNN and Mashable. Google have also released a video explaining their latest product, although they do caution the format is still very much ‘experimental’.

Following Facebook’s newsfeed update, Google is inevitably playing a greater role in brand and publisher traffic generation but does that mean finance brands, as well as publishers, need to be investing in this channel?

AMP is increasingly key to news-focused publishers and brands

According to data released by Chartbeat, Google search traffic has risen by more than 25% to their client sites since January 2017, even outpacing the (expected) decline in Facebook referrals. This has been predominantly driven by a 100% increase in mobile search traffic from Google on sites using AMP. Meanwhile, traffic to publishers not using AMP has stayed flat. It’s clear that staying ahead of the game and being able to move in a fast, agile manner to work with changing technologies will be key to brands’ success.

AMP stories requires significant technical input

A word of caution: the stories format is a development of the original AMP format, and this means that the same technical requirements that we highlighted in our AMP for finance brands review are very much still in play. These include building and maintaining two versions of each page as well as meeting exacting validation requirements in order to ensure the page will load as fast as possible.

For brands that do not rely heavily on news, content generation or social sharing; AMP stories may prove to be too significant an investment for likely return. That said, the trend towards more interactive, faster-loading content is unlikely to die so if not AMP stories then be prepared for the next slew of new technologies to come along very soon.

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Originally hailing from the UK, Sydneysider Annabel is a digital marketer with over a decade's experience working with global agencies and brands. A data and spreadsheet aficionado, she recently swapped SEO for motherhood and we eagerly await the analytics report! She is also maternally bilingual in French and English and speaks fluent Spanish.