Google announced the launch of its Accelerated Mobile Pages Project (AMP) today, an initiative aimed at improving the way in which readers interact with news on the mobile web.
Most of publishers' traffic on the web now comes from two sources: social media platforms and Google, so giving their audience quick access to the plethora of information available online is paramount for news organisations.
The open source project is part of Google's Digital News Initiative released in April and uses AMP HTML, combining existing web technologies that allow publishers and technology companies to build web pages that load faster on mobile devices and tablets.
Speaking at a press briefing event in London today, Danny Bernstein, director for product partnerships at Google, said the aim is to "simplify the underpinning engine" of Google Search for all publishers, while making it faster for readers.
"It's not about simplifying pages to the extent that great content such as video doesn't load or that we give a more dull reading experience," Bernstein explained, "we want to support the innovation that is important for publishers: rich media, slideshows, quizzes."
In practice, this means improving the aspect of caching, the web component that stores data so that future changes, such as updates to a breaking news story, can be shown to readers quicker.
So when users search for a topic on Google, for example 'Mars', the engine will return the latest updates to that story from selected publishers, and readers can then swipe between different articles that will load "instantly" on their smartphones.
The initiative won't go live in Google Search until next year, but a demo can be accessed here – the developer preview is now available on GitHub for anyone to download and provide feedback to improve it.
Madhav Chinnappa, head of strategic partnerships at Google, told Journalism.co.uk the project is not limited to search and that "it's about the mobile web, whether that's content viewed on Facebook, Twitter or in a browser".
He said the open source nature of AMP aims to give news organisations a common ground when tackling the mobile web from the technological side, so that they can "focus on putting their resources in editorial".
The Guardian, The Telegraph, BBC and Washington Post are some of the publishers that will be taking part in AMP, alongside European outlets such as El País, La Stampa and Les Echos, and technology companies like Twitter, WordPress and LinkedIn.
Bernstein said there will be no "revenue share or new deal to enter into" for publishers, who will "retain control over their content and business models", including content published behind paywalls.
Tony Danker, chief strategy officer for Guardian News & Media, said AMP is also trying to address the issue of mobile monetisation and ad-blocking, which the news industry is struggling with.
"When it comes to ad-blocking, readers are not spending hours discriminating against publishers according to loading speed, they punish all of us equally," Danker added, "so we need to be quicker."
Advertising will continue to be a part of the content publishers put out through AMP, but the goal is "developing advertising standards that don't make users seek alternative methods such as ad-blocking", said Richard Gingras, Google's head of news and social products.
He added that content published through AMP will not automatically rank higher in Google Search.
"[AMP] is just one of the components we will look at in order to give readers the best ranked articles and it is up to the publishers how they want to make their content faster."