In a blog post, the tech giant said a developer preview of AMP stories, its new tool designed to let publishers create visual-oriented narratives in a smartphone-friendly format, will be rolled out on Tuesday. The feature, which offers swipeable slides of text, photos, graphics and videos and is based on code from Google’s fast-loading Accelerated Mobile Pages, was developed with help from publishers including Hearst Corp., Condè Nast, Mashable, Meredith Corp. (MDP), Time Warner Inc.’s (TWX) CNN, Vox Media and The Washington Post.
Google plans to roll out AMP stories gradually and use these first few months to monitor reactions. If its new tool is well received, the company is willing to fully integrate AMP stories, even giving it a separate section in its search results page.
The Mountain View, California-based company’s introduction of its new feature comes as many of its tech rivals clamor to find ways to display stories on smartphone devices, which are now widely used to consume news and entertainment. Image-heavy story formats were pioneered by Snapchat and have since been adopted by Facebook’s Instagram. (See also: Instagram CEO Denies Copying Snapchat's Features.)
Google’s main challenge in these early stages is attracting publishers, particularly as AMP stories has yet to incorporate advertising. The tech giant is in the process of building support for ads, but has yet to disclose a time frame.
However, The Wall Street Journal reports that this issue hasn’t stopped several publishing executives from expressing an interest in experimenting with Google’s new format. “Google has a track record of delivering a return on investment in the longer run,” Regina Buckley, senior vice president of digital business development at Meredith, the magazine and online publisher that recently acquired Time, told The Wall Street Journal. “And we’re willing to take a leap of faith on that.”
Google’s new format has so far been met with mixed reactions from publishers, according to the Journal. Critics noted that AMP stories is too simplistic to support digital ads, while proponents of the new technology praised it for speeding up pages and sending additional traffic from searches. (See also: World's Second-Largest Advertiser Threatens to Boycott Tech Giants.)