Google A4A will speed up the web by making ads far more efficient
These days, the web is all about advertising. Whatever type of site you visit -- news, entertainment, music, or whatever -- you are almost certain to encounter ads. Many people turn to ad blockers not just because ads can be irritating (and something of a privacy concern), but also because they can dramatically slow down browsing.
We've already heard about Google's Accelerated Mobile Pages project which looks to speed up the web for mobile users. But AMP is about more than just pushing page content to handsets quicker. Google has also developed a way to dramatically speed up the appearance of ads: AMP for ads, or A4A.
The BBC explains that A4A is already in use on its own websites as well as the Guardian and the Wall Street Journal, and it can speed up load times by a factor of 10. Google has published some details about how A4A works and demonstrates how the technology slashes page load times. The company points out that the efficiency A4A brings reduces the strain pages have on devices' RAM and CPU -- and this in turn could help to improve battery life.
In particular, AMP only animates things that are visible on the screen. Period. While browsers are working on achieving this at the platform level, they need to be conservative in not breaking existing use cases. AMP for ads being new and special purpose technology, can pinpoint when animations are needed and thus further reduce CPU usage and battery consumption.
AMP will act as a supervisor for ads and ensure that they do not negatively impact primary content on a page. A4A based animations will be throttled to lower-but-uniform frame rates when AMP detects that 60 frames per second cannot be achieved on the current device. Similarly, if AMP is unable to stabilize the frame rate it will turn off animations. This ensures that every device gets the best experience it can deliver and makes sure that ads cannot have a negative impact on important aspects of the user experience such as scrolling.
While A4A will certainly be appealing to internet users, it's not yet clear how it will be received by advertisers and publishers. The theory is certainly sound, but switching to a new technology is potentially costly and some may not be willing to take the risk. On the other hand, faster load times could help to increase ad engagement which is precisely what advertisers are looking for. However things pan out, it seems we have a faster browsing experience to look forward to from Google at least.