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Google AMP is using some really dodgy tactics

Another walled garden on the Internet.

Walled gardens are never a good thing, especially in the world of technology. Facebook’s Instant Articles and Google’s AMP are both walled gardens which are built to serve Facebook and Google, and not you. On top of that, if you happen to be a publisher of content on the Internet, then these minimalist web pages are destined to reduce your revenue stream by a huge margin.

Earnings aside, let’s take a look at why a service like Google AMP is bad for everyone. For starters, once you create an AMP version of a web page, then that’s about it for all the visitors to your website. The AMP page will be cached to Google’s servers and you’ll see the visitor count drop. While you can have AdSense on AMP pages, there are restrictions which make it difficult to embed the same number of ads as your usual web page. Most web sites have way too many ads but AMP pages have so little that your revenue stream from ads will hit rock bottom.

The implication of serving everything from Google’s servers is that they have complete autonomy over how the world sees your website. As a result, visitors will remain on Google’s servers and never leave. Essentially, the internet becomes this little walled garden within Google’s servers. This is eerily similar to Facebook’s Free Basics. Rather than compete with other ad-serving companies, Google is eliminating the competition by keeping the visitors from going to normal webpages. There’s only one party that benefits from this arrangement and that’s Google. Essentially, they want to take your content, present it in the way they deem best, remove all competing ad services so that only Google ad services have monopoly and make more money.

Money aside, there’s another aspect of AMP web pages that’s irksome. There is no individuality among websites. It’s like going to an anonymous rally where everyone is wearing the same Guy Fawkes mask. There’s no telling one person from another. Moreover, AMP uses a few proprietary HTML tags that are not rendered by other browsers and services. Moreover, if you wish to appease both Google and Facebook, then it’s even more of a hassle for you. While AMP may speed up viewing of web pages, it certainly isn’t technology friendly. If you want to add more interactive elements to your page, such as a chat bot or a live chat window for customer support, then that’s not happening.

This is because AMP pages don’t allow custom JavaScript code that is necessary to make this work. Since custom JavaScript is a big no, it’s not just chat services that suffer but practically a large gamut of value added services that rely on JavaScript. All these products are rendered invalid on AMP pages, which in turn affects the livelihood of all the developers who made these value added services. Most of them will be start-ups, so AMP can be called “anti-innovation”.

To understand how restrictive AMP pages are, understand this – you cannot even have input forms on AMP pages. So any form of login, data collection, etc. is out of the question. One of the key aspects of running a web site is analytics. Analytics will tell you exactly what kind of content is doing well and the ones that aren’t doing so well. The depth of information that analytics provides is the best thing about it. A little known thing about AMP is that you get a truncated form of data from AMP pages, so you can’t even take a proper call on whether AMP pages are benefiting your site or not. All you can do is take whatever marketing propaganda Google throws at you with a pinch of salt.

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