A First Look at Google AMP Stories

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Stories, the innovative social media format brought to the game by Snapchat, got adopted (copied) by Instagram, then brought on to Facebook and WhatsApp. Now Google jumps on the bandwagon too, by launching AMP Stories. It is in many ways different then what you would expect when you hear “Google Stories”.

How are AMP Stories different?

  • It is not an ephemeral format – AMP stories are published on the web and can be found by search engines (Google)
  • There is no app you can download to create Google AMP stories. It’s up to vendors to create tools that allow the creation of AMP Stories
  • AMP stories are mobile-focused but can be consumed on desktop
  • Every AMP story is shareable via a link and can be consumed in your web browser

How do AMP Stories Look?

Apart from that technical differences, the look and feel of AMP Stories are the same. You swipe or click through slides of a story. A slide can have pictures, audio, video, and text.


An AMP Story featured on the official AMP Stories website´╗┐

What is Google AMP?

AMP stands for “accelerated mobile pages” and is an open source project launched by Google in 2015 with the goal of providing a great user experience when consuming content on mobile. While everybody can create “AMP powered pages” it is aimed at media companies that publish a lot of content. AMP pages are trimmed of unnecessary junk, have a more minimalist layout and design and therefore load very fast. AMP pages are showed preferred by Google on smartphones. You may have consumed AMP optimized pages in the past already, without noticing it.

Now the tech behind AMP is used to deliver the Stories format too. Google is providing the framework, but not a CMS or other tools for content creators or publishers. It’s up to 3rd party developers utilizing the AMP project.

How are Google AMP Stories created?

With the stories format on the rise in general over the last couple of years, there are already a lot of companies out there that create visual tools for creating stories for Instagram, Snapchat or Facebook. These companies will surely evaluate Google AMP Stories and add it to their supported formats.

While researching for this blog I found the following sites listing Google AMP Stories as a feature.

Cutnut “Stories. Made simple”

This company (based in Hamburg) lists “multichannel stories” as a feature, meaning you can create stories for the web (AMP stories) and social media platforms in one tool. The tool is in closed beta, I applied for an account

Tappable “Stories: simply made, widely read”

This company from Belgium is focused on building a tool for creating stories. “We’re launching soon, stay tuned”, it reads. The video on the frontpage shows a quick demo of a visual story editor.

Visual Stories “Visual Storytelling at its Finest”

This company from India seems to have an offer in place if you want to try creating AMP stories today. You can sign up and join as a contributor or create your own site.

The contributor can create stories to be published in a network of “65+ websites in the Visual Stories Network”. What looks more interesting to me is the second option of creating your own site with the possibility of hosting your AMP stories. Technically you will point a subdomain to your site at Visual Stories.

I have signed up and may will take a detailed look at the editing capabilitities in a separate blog post.


I am sure many more startups and established companies are developing AMP Stories features. These three came up while searching on Twitter about this topic.

WordPress and Google AMP Stories

You might ask how WordPress can be used to create AMP Stories. With a large portion of the web running on WordPress, this question is asked often. There is an offficial AMP plugin (developed by Google, Automattic, and others), that can be used to create AMP powered posts and pages on your WordPress site. Currently, the plugin does not support the creation of AMP Stories.

There is another WordPress plugin by an independent developer called “AMP Stories for WordPress“, that adds a simplistic story editor to the bottom of your editing screen. This approach is nice if you, as an individual blogger want to utilize AMP stories for some of your posts from time to time. The plugin site says it was updated 7 months ago for the last time, so I expect it does not support the latest AMP Stories features and other products under development are superior. But nonetheless I would appreciate having a plugin that allows me to create AMP Stories in a visual way, inside WordPress, without requiring me to turn my complete website into an AMP powered site.

Screenshot AMP Stories Plugin: The story editor in WordPress is added at the bottom of the post editor

I expect several WordPress devs coding AMP Stories plugins right now, it could be a big market after all.

Examples of Google AMP Stories

Conclusion

It’s too early to tell if AMP stories will take off. The tools are still being developed, companies with enough resources may figure out a way to re-publish some of the content as AMP stories on the web. Creating a compelling visual story takes time, why not add them as an additional format to your existing website instead of being only accessible inside the Instagram app?

In general, I am appreciating the effort to make stories a web-format. With Google the main force driving the AMP project, I expect that the Stories feature will be received with mixed emotions (like the whole AMP project). If it takes off I am sure Facebook and others will follow and make their story format more open to the web. Let’s see how often the AMP Stories format will appear on our search results page.

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Rolf Mistelbacher

Rolf Mistelbacher

Hi, I am the CEO & Founder of Fresh van Root, a boutique digital agency in Vienna, Europe.I got first online in '96 and since then I am hooked on the web. Here I blog about social media, WordPress and blogging, productivity, apps and tools for digital marketers, and all things related to running a digital agency.Before starting Fresh van Root I was working at Microsoft for quite some time. Get in touch with me on LinkedIn or Twitter!

3 thoughts on “A First Look at Google AMP Stories”

  1. Hello Rolf,
    Thanks for adding my plugin “Amp stories for WordPress” in your article.
    I’ve updated the plugin, so people can continue to use it.
    Write to my if you have any suggestions for improvement.

    Best Regards,
    Elias

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