News websites, as with all websites, need money in order to continue operating, and since there aren’t very many people who’re willing to pay subscription fees for online news, the only way these websites can monetize is through ads. These ads have the unfortunate side effect of making web pages load much more slowly, especially on mobile devices, which has pushed a lot of people to adopt ad blockers to improve load times and remove clutter. That’s why many websites have been forced to turn to companies like Facebook to host their content in order to improve user experience, but Google has a better solution, one that’s open source and would allow these websites to retain control of their content.
As ad blocking has gained popularity and news sites have become slower to load, companies like Facebook and Apple recently began offering to host news content on behalf of publishers to improve the experience. The idea of handing off control would have been unthinkable just a few years ago, and is now a reality that bloggers, news publishers and others must face as it becomes harder to monetize ‘free’ content. Much of the discussion has focused around loading times, as news sites become increasingly large and sluggish by piling on ad trackers, media and third-party scripts, they’re shedding users with every second longer visitors need to wait. Today, Google’s throwing its hat into the ring with a new project called “Accelerated Mobile Pages” which is an open-source specification for getting content to load faster on mobile devices. In short, it’s a new framework called AMP HTML focused on building lightweight webpages, which can optionally work in tandem with Google’s caching infrastructure around the world to provide those pages much faster. Using AMP HTML, websites can built incredibly lightweight versions of their pages which Google will distribute for them — while still hosting the actual content themselves.