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Google’s AMP takes aim at third party analytics tags to make mobile pages quicker

Google has said that its soon-to-be-launched Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) project will restrict the use of third party tracking codes in a bid to deliver a faster, smoother experience for mobile users.

With more and more traffic shifting to smartphones and tablets Google is keen to help content creators offer users a similar experience to the one they’ve become used to on their PCs and laptops.

Last year Google rolled out its mobile-friendly update, which put a strong bias in mobile search results towards sites that met the company’s mobile best practice guidelines.

But despite changing its search algorithm and throwing its considerable weight behind mobile, user experience on the go remains something of a lottery.

Smoother, quicker mobile pages with less happening in the background

AMP offers publishers a chance to leapfrog any technical or logistical obstacles that might be undermining their mobile-friendly credentials and get access to a platform built specifically for a mobile future.

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Details of how AMP will work have dripped out since the project was first announced in October. A recent post on the official AMP Blog revealed plans to offer a single tracking code for third party analytics providers, as well as Google Analytics.

The aim is to avoid the clutter behind the scenes with multiple trackers from different providers all doing similar jobs – something that often slows down mobile pages.

“While each analytics package provides a unique and insightful view of a publisher’s audience, this client-side duplication of effort has led to degraded performance, as each tracker independently performs many of the same measurements,” Google said. “These many little costs can add up to poor experiences.”

Google has said that third parties will be able to use its tracking code for their own reporting needs. The <amp-analytics> component, which the Google Analytics team helped build, can be configured to capture page views, events and other key data.

“There’s no need to scatter custom JavaScript throughout your page to detect actions that should trigger events and hits,” Google said in a post on its official Analytics Blog last week. “Instead, you can define which actions should trigger hits within the configuration section and let the magic of AMP do the rest.”

An open-source alternative to Facebook Instant Articles

Google’s AMP has been described as an open-source alternative to Facebook’s Instant Articles, which is another option for publishers keen to offer a smoother and more consistent user experience on mobiles and tablets.

With Instant Articles a select group of publishers have the chance to publish exclusive content within the Facebook environment. For users, Instant Articles looks the same and runs the same regardless of who created the content. For publishers, Instant Articles provides access to Facebook’s vast mobile audience and a share of the ad revenue.

Ultimately, Instant Articles and AMP have the same aim: to hold on to more mobile traffic. The big difference is that while Instant Articles is restricted to Facebook’s partners, AMP promises to be open to all comers.

The official launch of AMP is expected later this month.

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Adam Barber
Adam Barber About the author

Adam is one of Castleford's founders and remains actively involved in the day-to-day running of the business. He started out as a writer and still contributes regularly to our blog, covering SEO, CRO, social media and digital strategy.

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