Skip to main content

Google A4A will speed up the web by improving efficiency of ads

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.

The technique works by separating ad requests from ad rendering, and it also restricts the use of Javascript - something that will come as great news to those concerned about privacy and security. Like AMP, A4A is intelligent about how it interprets code. Google explains:

"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.

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.