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According to new data from Chartbeat, the vast majority of traffic growth publishers are seeing from platforms is now coming from Google AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) — or fast-loading mobile article pages on Google Search and Google News.

Why it matters: As Facebook pulls back from publisher traffic referrals in the News Feed, Google General Counsel Kent Walker tells Axios that Google is "doubling down" on news, specifically using Google AMP. The data from Chartbeat shows it's working.

Expand chart
Reproduced from Chartbeat; Chart: Axios Visuals

"We believe in the importance of news. We are not backing away from news — we are doubling down on news," Walker said at an Axios/Edelman event in San Francisco Tuesday. 

According to the data, mobile is driving almost all traffic growth for publishers from platforms, and has been since at least early 2017.  And traffic to publishers using AMP specifically is up 100% since 2017.

"That type of growth in a year is simply stunning."
— Chartbeat CEO John Saroff

Chartbeat's referral data corroborates that of Parse.ly's, which has shown steady Facebook traffic referral declines for publishers since last fall. 

Expand chart
Data: Parse.ly referrer dashboard; Chart: Lazaro Gamio / Axios

Walker says AMP, which streamlines and speeds up the article-reading experience on mobile, has become a significant part of Google's focus on improving publisher relationships. 

  • "We found from our research people are increasingly consuming their news on mobile devices and if you have to wait for pictures to download, articles to download, and for ads to download, the amount of news you consume drops dramatically." 

Google has been working for months to make changes to AMP that would make it a more engaging product that could compete with other news distributors, primarily Snapchat.

  • Earlier this week, it announced that it's working with nearly a dozen web publishers to create Snapchat-like "Stories," strings or video and photos, within AMP. 

For publishers, managing traffic distribution on web platforms has been a bumpy ride.

  • Facebook has launched and pulled back on a few news experiments, causing publishers to get caught up in investments that don't always pan out. The head of its Journalism Project Campbell Brown said twice at Recode's Code Media conference on Monday that they should've been more transparent around experiments and tests.
  • While the vast majority of publishers are finding success on Snapchat Discover, one outlier is CNN, which is still working the platform to find the best way to engage younger audiences.
  • Up-and-coming traffic distribution platforms like Apple News and Flipboard continue to drive more traffic to publishers, although some have complained that monetization on Apple News has been difficult.

The big issue: how to pay publishers fairly. 

  • Facebook said last June it was paying publishers using Instant Articles, its version of AMP, more than $1 million per day through via Facebook Audience Network. But according to a Columbia Journalism Review report, more than half of publishers have stopped using Instant Articles and other reports suggest that some publishers are frustrated with the products' business model.
  • Snapchat said on its latest earnings call that it paid out publishers $100 million in 2017, but Jason Kint, CEO of Digital Content Next (DCN), the premium publishing trade group, tweeted that he disagreed with the numbers.
  • Google says in the past year, publishers on AMP have generated up to $6 million per week from ads using Google AdSense and Doubleclick Ad Exchange, earning 3X more revenue per day. According to a report published last week by DCN, the two platforms that the highest number of publishers are monetizing are Facebook and YouTube, followed by Google AMP and Snapchat (tied), then Twitter and Instagram.

In response to revenue strife, many news executives ranging from News Corp's Rupert Murdoch to Buzzfeed's Jonah Peretti have called on Facebook and others to pay publishers a cut for distributing their content, similar to how cable and TV networks operate.

Go deeper

Advocates fret Roe v. Wade's 49th anniversary could be its last

Photo: Leigh Vogel/Getty Images for Women's March Inc

As Saturday marks the 49th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court's landmark decision that legalized abortion access in the U.S., advocates warn the ruling is "more at risk now than ever."

The big picture: The Supreme Court in December heard a challenge to a Mississippi 15-week abortion ban that could throw Roe's survival into question, or at least narrow its scope.

Updated 11 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

  1. Health: Pfizer and Moderna boosters overwhelmingly prevent Omicron hospitalizations, CDC finds — Omicron pushes COVID deaths toward 2,000 per day — The pandemic-proof health care giant.
  2. Vaccines: The case for Operation Warp Speed 2.0 — Starbucks drops worker vaccine or test requirement after SCOTUS ruling — Kids' COVID vaccination rates are particularly low in rural America.
  3. Politics: Biden concedes U.S. should have done more testing — Arizona says it "will not be intimidated" by Biden on anti-mask school policies — Federal judge blocks Biden's vaccine mandate for federal workers.
  4. World: American Airlines flight to London forced to turn around over mask dispute — WHO: COVID health emergency could end this year — Greece imposes vaccine mandate for people 60 and older — Austria approves COVID vaccine mandate for adults.
  5. Variant tracker

Arizona governor sues Biden administration over COVID funds tied to mandates

A teacher prepares a hallway barrier to help students maintain social distancing at John B. Wright Elementary School in Tucson, Arizona, on Aug. 14, 2020. Photo: Cheney Orr/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) filed a lawsuit Friday against the Biden administration for ordering the state to stop allocating federal COVID relief funds to schools that don't comply with public health recommendations such as masking, the Arizona Republic reports.

Why it matters: The Treasury Department said last week that the state would have to pay back the money if Ducey does not redesignate the $173 million programs to ensure they don't "undermine efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19."