As Antitrust Pressure Mounts, Google to Pull Back Benefit to News Sites That Adopted Its Preferred Mobile Technology

As Antitrust Pressure Mounts, Google to Pull Back Benefit to News Sites That Adopted Its Preferred Mobile Technology

December 1, 2020 | 6 min read

Four years after the introduction of a special "top news show" placement in search results to entice publishers from a format created from mobile pages called AMP, Google announced last week that it would receive this preferential treatment in the spring. 

In a blog post, Google said, "We'll prioritize pages with a great page experience, whether they're implemented using AMP or any other web technology where we evaluate results."

The company indicated in 2018 that it would eventually give up the preference. The announcement of a specific timetable last week came less than a month after the Justice Department described it as an "internet monopoly defender in a lawsuit" alleging breaches of competition rules and pressure on officials in the European Union.  Which has already imposed heavy fines on Google since $ 9 billion in antitrust infringements?

"I've always thought that the AMP has raised concerns about antitrust," said Sally Hubbard, author of Monopoly Socks and an antitrust expert at the Open Market Institute. This is: "If you want to appear at the top of search results, you must play by our rules and use AMP."

Google spokesman Meghan Farnsworth did not focus on the timing of the change, but said AMP was not dead, saying the company was "fully committed to AMP as a technology."

She said AMP still needs some features that aren't "technically possible" without it, such as "fast scrolling to travel" in Google Photos and that Google's "For You" news reader is a "favorite" stream.

Despite the change schedule, some news sites have the relief of not having to continue to use Google's preferred mobile standard.

In a written response to The Markup questions, Robin Bergon, head of data management at The New York Times, said, "We recommend starting Google to move away from AMP." "It's important for Google to address the major issue of coordination so that it is no longer a requirement for news products and performance rankings."

News publishers and other people have been buying AMPs for years. Some have described it as Google trying to exercise the same control over the big web as Facebook does in the news on its closed system.

This is because AMP is more than just a set of formatting rules. Once you've created a site for your AMP page, Google copies it and stores it on Google's servers. When users click on a link to an AMP page in their search results - or in their message-reading app - Google distributes that cached copy from its servers.

Read an open letter for 2018, signed by more than 700 technologists and copyright advocates: "AMP places users on the Google Network and redirects traffic to Google from other sites." "On a billion-user scale, this strengthens Google's dominance on the web."


According to StateCounter, nearly nine out of 10 Internet searches in the United States have been completed. Microsoft Bing, the second most popular search engine, accounts for only seven percent of the market, less than one in ten searches in the United States.

A major newspaper engineer who did not ask for the word because the publisher did not allow the interview said that Google is the size that inspires publishers to use AMP. Chinese search engine Baidu launched an AMP-like initiative called MIP, which has not received a response from American publishers. Bing also uses AMP, but Google lacks the publisher advantage.

The engineer said, "If [only] Bing does that, she'll say, 'No, that's fine.' No one would use it. "

In an analysis published earlier this year with a mark-up of 15,269 popular search queries on Google, we found that results in support of AMP appeared the most, with the first results accounting for more than 13 percent of the page. Google took over another 41 percent of the pages for its products.

At the time, Google spokeswoman Lara Levin described the mark-up as "erroneous and misleading."

Hubbard of the Open Market Institute said she hopes people who investigate Google and other major technology companies want to sue Google to use search to target people on their personal property How to go

Some industry experts now argue that changes to the largest news library could eventually make the AMP format obsolete.

This initiative, originally called Accelerated Mobile Pages, limits the size and functionality of a mobile site in the name of speed and user experience. This is sometimes called "dieting".

As the news industry has struggled over the past decade, declining newspaper subscription rates, declining advertising revenue and Internet traffic have led to huge job losses, and many publishers have accepted AMP in the hope that they will help them make the final profit. It is used by most of the 2000 members of the News Media Alliance, a trade organization representing in the media.

"They don't really feel there is a choice," said Daniel Coffey, the group's general manager and senior vice president.

Her views are widespread.

Andrew Betts, a former member of the W3C Technical Architecture Group at the International Web Standards Organization, said: "Google publishers are basically forcing us to host people who have talked about AMP. They have written about their concerns. Thanks to publishers who decide that do not want to do this because they want to submit their content, they will never appear in the first set of search results. 

Google CEO, AMP was once referred to as an "altruistic" effort to improve the Internet. In response to questions written last year by spokesman David Cicilline (D-RI), who chaired a House of Representatives subcommittee, Google said the main mobile newsgroup needed AMP for technical reasons. If there are links to the cached version of Google's AMP, they will appear not only in this image circle, but in all parts of the mobile search results.

AMP makes mobile networks more standardized by allowing you to include only stories or snippets and view them outside of the sites where they were originally published. This feature is potentially useful as Google displays more and more content in organized "units" on a search results page, which is an unusual practice in itself.

Several news sites report that switching to AMP has increased web traffic, mainly because their major newsgroups have too much to offer. But the financial gain and loyalty of the reader did not always follow the clicks.

The news media alliance published a white paper in June stating that its members reported that AMP pages generate less revenue and convert fewer readers into subscribers. One news organization reported that visitors to AMP stories receive fewer articles to read in a single visit, a coalition called "one and one." Another found that the number of readers per million was 39% lower than the number of readers who came through the link AMP.

A Google spokesman for Farnsworth responded that others had had financial success with AMP and pointed to a lifestyle site associated with writing on AMP's success stories page.

Covey of the News Media Alliance said AMP support costs could also be significant for some publishers. "It's a little trickier for younger people because they don't always have the resources to format content in a certain way, and there are also costs associated with opportunity costs," instead of spending time on it.

Sometimes AMP creates problems that publishers lack the ability to solve on their own. In one notable example, publishers found that there is no way to allow users to opt out of selling their data, a requirement under California's consumer privacy law that came into effect this year.

Google says it doesn't consider AMP to be a factor in "search rankings," though it said page load speed is a factor.

A coalition of publishers, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, Gannett and others, last month called on technology and media companies to work together to choose an AMP alternative that allows platforms to gather web content "without attracting market power." allows. 

Matt Dorville, director of search engine optimization at BuzzFeed, said he was "skeptical" about using AMP because Google was asking him to provide a number of key messages. Comprehensive testing is planned to make sure that trench formatting does not affect site traffic and will monitor the selection of other key players through AMPs such as Axios and The Guardian.

He said: "You really don't want to be the first to come out of the gate to make that change."