AMP for Gmail - A game changer or bad news for email?

Blog | 16 Mar, 2018

In an attempt to modernise the email experience for over a billion users worldwide, last month, Google announced plans to bring their Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) technology to your Gmail inbox. 

Email continues to be the number one preferred marketing channel of consumers. Yet for decades, email has remained relatively static when it comes to any major technical advancements - and the way people interact with email has remained unchanged during this time. But is this part of its charm? Is AMP here to drag email into 2018 kicking and screaming? Or is this just an unnecessary gimmick that marketers and consumers simply aren’t ready for?

What is AMP?
Google launched its AMP technology for web pages back in 2015, designed to load significantly faster than regular mobile pages. It’s an open source project, and aims “to make the web better for all”. But AMP is not without its critics, many of who (rather dramatically) claim that Google are “killing the web” by extending its control over others’ content. 

Why is it good news for email?
"This new spec will be a powerful way for developers to create more engaging, interactive and actionable email experiences," said Aakash Sahney, a Gmail product manager in a blog post.

In simple terms, it will allow consumers to complete tasks directly within an email - almost embedding a mini website within the email itself. No need to be taken to a landing page to ‘Learn More’ or ‘Book Now’. Additionally - it will open the door for live, dynamic ‘post send’ updates on variables such as offer pricing and availability; functionality only really previously possible through the use of dynamic imagery from the likes of Movable Ink.

Google have already given a glimpse into what this might look like - through partnerships with Pintrest & Booking.com.

 

 

 

What are the downsides?
Some major brands and marketers are seriously behind the times when it comes to their current email marketing efforts. As it stands, many are still struggling enough with challenges of mobile responsiveness and introducing basic level personalisation to their campaigns. Are they really ready for AMP? 

And do they even need to be? As I mentioned above - email hasn’t really changed much over the years. But is this the exact reason it’s still used by everyone, everywhere? Email is simple, it’s cost-effective, no company owns it. It ain't broke! 

Whilst Gmail claims AMP is open source to developers - it’s unclear whether other inbox providers and competitors will be able to adopt the standard across their own products. E.g. Will an AMP email only work in Gmail? Or will Apple, Yahoo, Outlook also be allowed to, or even want to, take part? And this is a key question….

Developers and ESPs will have to consider AMP email as a third email version type alongside standard HTML and Plain Text when creating campaigns. This is likely to curb adoption, as many simply won't have the resources to dedicate to a special version that will only be viewed by Gmail users. 

Summary
As an email marketer - I love innovation. I love trying to push the envelope when it comes to email, and I look forward to putting AMP to the test and seeing where we can take it...

Whether or not AMP will be supported across enough email providers to justify the time and effort is one question - and whether email users are ready to change the way they interact with email is quite another. But for the majority of (pretty big!) brands that make it through to my inbox - I’d say it makes sense to start by focusing on creating basic, yet functioning mobile email experiences before venturing into the world of Accelerated Mobile Pages for Gmail. 

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