Google AMP Stories – an exciting new platform for brands?

February 21st, 2018

One of the most interesting and innovative developments in platform publishing in recent years has been the introduction of Snapchat Discover.

The company created a unique and exclusive publishing platform which showcased interactive, immersive content – including video, audio and GIFs in addition to words and images – which was then easily accessible via Snapchat’s Discover page.

For some companies it has been a huge success leading to high levels of interactions with users. For most of the period though Discover has been a walled garden with only hand picked media companies given their own pages. Non-media companies wanting to engage with a Snapchat audience have invariably had to take more established route via advertising, or by creating their own channels.

Snapchat update

Following on from the recent Snapchat update things have changed a little. The Discover page no longer only features content from the signed up media companies, but also anything else Snapchat deems ‘media’ – so it includes influencers too. There are also hints that Snapchat might be having a bit of a re-think and pushing media companies towards creating video content rather than the interactive content that is the hallmark of Discover.

Nevertheless one of the big questions for media companies is ‘has the success of Discover been down to the strength of the content, or the reach of the platform?’

Well we might soon find out as this week Google announced that it has created a very similar service to Discover called AMP stories.

In statement on its blog the company said:

Some stories are best told with text while others are best expressed through images and videos. On mobile devices, users browse lots of articles, but engage with few in-depth. Images, videos and graphics help publishers to get their readers’ attention as quickly as possible and keep them engaged through immersive and easily consumable visual information.”

To show how AMP Stories might develop Google has signed up a series of partners who have developed launch content for the platform. So for example Wired gives you a whizzy tour through Blockchain while CNN focuses on space exploration. You can access the content on your mobile from here.

It looks great very Gen Z and Millennial-friendly and apes the Discover template with its use of images and GIFs interspersed with video and audio.

At present AMP Stories is in what Google calls ‘the experimental phase’ and anyone can go to the developers page and create their own stories, using tools which seem pretty simple to use.

Ironically the announcement may even prove to be good news for Snapchat Discover too. Currently publishers have small teams working on the Discover channels. If they can take that content and roll it out across the web via Google it might enable them to generate more revenue and expand what they’re doing in this area.

Brands and AMP Stories

Perhaps the most interesting thing about AMP Stories from a brand perspective is that anyone, whether they be media companies, influencers or brands can create content. Google said “Today AMP stories are available for everyone to try on their websites. As part of the AMP Project, the AMP story format is free and open for anyone to use. To get started, check out the tutorial and documentation. We are looking forward to feedback from content creators and technical contributors alike.”

Ok, so there’s no guarantees as to where Google might take AMP Stories, and there remains the big issue of where they might be placed on the Google search ecosystem. However if they end up near the top of Google mobile searches there would be likely to be a rush to create them. Also at the time of writing I haven’t heard or seen of any brands creating content in this way.

Yet… Google AMP could prove to be a massive opportunity for all kinds of  brands. It unleashes a level of creativity that could previously only really be attained via investing in bespoke and expensive projects. It is easy to see the likes of Red Bull creating dramatic content in this way. But Google AMP Stories could also be useful for tutorials, think skincare brands, or for holiday brands to show off their destinations with a compelling mixture of videos, images, maps and more. All on the open web with the potential push of the world’s leading search engine.

This is a platform that is well worth watching.

Ashley Norris, Consultant Editor, The CMA

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