Your AMP inventory is worth more than you think
Columnist Barb Palser says it’s time for publishers and ad exchanges to start exposing and targeting AMP as premium inventory.
There’s a good chance your AMP ad setup involved plugging in one or two programmatic exchanges, plus a paid link module at the bottom of the article, and calling it a day.
Because hey, you’re busy. AMP comprises a fraction of your inventory. And you’re not sure what your options are. Sound familiar?
This is a common approach — but you can do better.
If you treat AMP as undifferentiated run-of-site inventory (as many publishers do), the results can be underwhelming. Programmatic eCPMs do tend to rise in AMP inventory as a result of AMP’s viewability-driven CTRs — but those benefits can be diluted in volume-driven marketplaces.
On the other hand, if you think of AMP as a special product, you might discover it’s the most valuable mobile web inventory you have — particularly if you have a direct sales operation, participate in a premium private marketplace or have any other strategy that benefits from ads actually being viewed by people.
The reason is simple: AMP is optimized for speed, user experience and ad viewability. Publishers should match it with direct advertisers and other demand sources that respond to those metrics. And exchanges need to be able to differentiate this high-performance inventory.
How AMP improves ad performance
AMP’s strong ad performance metrics have been explained and extolled ad nauseam; here’s a recap:
- AMPs are fast. AMPs typically load in less than a second, compared to 19 seconds for the average mobile web page. Users are less likely to abandon the page and more likely to see the ads. There’s a plethora of studies correlating speed and engagement — here’s a recent one.
- AMPs are clean. Unlike Facebook Instant Articles, AMP doesn’t limit the number or placement of ads on a page, but it does restrict invasive formats and performance-taxing code that causes pages to stall and stutter. There’s less competition for attention, and consumers are more receptive.
- Ad load protocol favors viewability. For standard ads, AMP waits to load ads until the user’s mobile viewport is near the ad position. This reduces non-viewed impressions and increases the viewability rate. With AMP for Ads creative, the ads can load instantly with the content — which makes a huge difference.
These factors add up to higher ad viewability, click-through rates and — when those metrics have an effect on rates — higher eCPMs. (Here are a bunch of case studies.)
If you can deliver consistently higher viewability and CTR with a segment of inventory you already own, why wouldn’t you do that?
How to leverage AMP
While an initial period of reticence around explicitly promoting or selling AMP was understandable, the format is past the nascent stage and now firmly rooted in the digital ecosystem. It’s time for publishers (and exchanges) to give AMP a seat at the grownup table.
- Differentiate your AMP inventory. Even if you’re only monetizing programmatically, make sure you’ve segmented AMP inventory in order to target and track it. Include all your demand sources to drive competition.
- Include third-party ad tech. This includes special formats and targeting technology. Here’s a huge list of AMP-enabled ad tech companies. The list gets longer every week.
- Optimize your ad map. If your mobile ad layout is an embarrassment, do better with AMP. You could improve both viewability and volume by moving ads up from the bottom of the page into the article body.
- Run direct-sold campaigns in AMP. If you’re not ready to explicitly sell AMP yet, you can begin by transparently including AMP in direct-sold mobile campaigns. Measure its performance against standard inventory to establish the internal validation needed to move to the next step.
- Sell AMP explicitly. Consider packaging AMP inventory as a special product or sponsorship. AMP offers what advertisers want: a clean, well-lit environment for their messages. Buyers of anonymous programmatic inventory might never see their ads on your pages — but your direct advertisers will. Beyond AMP’s measurable performance benefits, the advantages of a quality user experience will not be lost on them. (Remember, AMP isn’t limited to standard IAB display units; AMP supports adhesion ads, pre-roll, outstream video units and other more sophisticated formats. The AMP Project has started collecting sample formats here.)
Of course, we can’t have this conversation without noting that programmatic exchanges are still figuring out how to expose AMP inventory in a way that makes sense for buyers and sellers.
Challenges (there always are!)
Before charging ahead with AMP-targeted pitches, there are a few things to consider:
- If you’re selling AMP explicitly, some education will be needed for both sellers and advertisers (e.g., how/where to find AMPs), but the learning opportunity is also a relationship-building opportunity. Do you want your advertisers to hear about AMP from your competitors — or from you?
- AMP inventory can be hard to forecast — although at this point, most publishers should see a fairly stable baseline punctuated by event-driven spikes. Retain the option to use standard mobile inventory to meet impression goals if necessary.
- User data targeting does work with AMP, but AMP’s cross-domain technology adds complexity. If targeting is a requirement, make sure you’ve implemented it on AMP.
- Certain third-party auditing services might not work on AMP; make sure to consider requirements and expectations in advance. (Measurement and analytics platform Moat just announced it will support AMP ads.)
A direct-sales model won’t make sense for every publisher. Some are too small, while others are subject to requirements that aren’t supported yet. But regardless of your size or monetization strategy, your AMP inventory is probably more valuable than you think.
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily MarTech. Staff authors are listed here.
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