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AMP for Gmail: Liveclicker’s Perspective

Since Google’s announcement that AMP would be extended to Gmail, the initiative has attracted a large amount of press coverage reaching well beyond the confines of the insular email marketing industry. There’s likely nary a digital marketing exec that hasn’t already read Devin Coldeway’s TechCrunch article widely criticizing the idea, for example. Industry reaction has been mostly negative to mixed, while others simply feel it’s too early to pass judgement.

Because AMP for Gmail has already been covered in depth elsewhere, I’m not going to bother explaining what AMP is or how it works here. If you’re looking for more of a tech deep dive, Litmus’ Bettina Specht delivered a fabulous overview about a month ago that should satisfy any developer or email designer looking for tech deets. Brightwave also posted an excellent high-level message for marketers that’s a good read for anyone seeking more of a primer.

Liveclicker and AMP for Gmail

So what does Liveclicker think about AMP for Gmail?  We are, after all, an industry technology pioneer with a mission to enable advanced personalized experiences for email marketers. A huge promise of AMP is that it can bring more interactive experiences to email.  As a result, we are very interested in AMP. We consider AMP to be a significant innovation in the industry. We also believe that if AMP succeeds, it will be a big win for marketers, regardless of how it’s perceived in the wider world. Email marketers live in a world of crowded inboxes, shrinking consumer attention spans, and mailbox providers that make it harder to reach the inbox. Any technique or technology a marketer can use to make his organization’s messages stand out from the crowd will very rightly merit attention.

“A huge promise of AMP is that it can bring more interactive experiences to email.”

At Liveclicker, we are committed to embracing new technologies, then providing access to them through products that speed an email marketer’s time to market while driving deeper personalization in the channel. As a personalization company at the core, we look at AMP through this lens. We are interested in ways we can utilize AMP to deliver products that will allow marketers to provide more personalized, engaging experiences for their own customers.

It’s early days with AMP for Gmail. There are many hurdles standing in the way of success all email marketers should take note of.  Among them:

AMP will require coding a separate version of an email message, specifically for Gmail recipients, as noted in the Litmus article. The vast majority of email marketers operate production teams and operations that are likely unable to absorb the load of coding additional email versions. In fact, this hurdle is a significant reason companies like Liveclicker and our competitors have achieved success. We provide technology that automatically adapts to each recipient’s environment, making it possible for marketers to achieve personalization at scale without manually segmenting lists. It’s also worth mentioning that it’s already possible to achieve limited interactivity in the inbox without coding a separate version of an email, as Brightwave noted.

AMP has not been widely tested across mail clients. While it’s known AMP is Gmail-specific and delivered via a separate MIME-type, not all non-supporting mail clients may ‘gracefully fail’ to display the non-AMP version of the email. Right now, it’s not even known if AMP will function seamlessly across Gmail’s own mail clients and services (apps, mobile, web).  At minimum, this promises to introduce another headache for email marketers, if not worse.

Without additional mailbox providers joining the AMP bandwagon, the benefit to marketers is quite limited. The fragmentation of mail clients and mailbox providers is a significant issue plaguing email developers that web developers simply don’t have to deal with at a comparable level. Plus, the largest B2C marketers rarely have more than 40% of the total database using Gmail, of which only about half of the openers use Gmail products to render the final messages. In fact, at Liveclicker we see nearly 50% of all Gmail opens occurring in non-Gmail clients such as the iOS native mail client, Android native mail client, Apple Mail, or Outlook.

In summary, we believe AMP is an important development in the email industry. We are interested in this technology, but are exploring it through the lens of personalization and speeding time to market for marketers. Despite the promise of AMP for Gmail, the technology faces a tough road ahead because industry adoption is limited and the technical changes required by senders to embrace it are not minimal. We are excited to continue experimenting with AMP and will update our clients and readers as things progress.