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Adobe Flash Hits Dead End as Advertisers Plot Huge Pivot to HTML5
Image Credit  Brian Talbot Creative Commons license

Adobe Flash Hits Dead End as Advertisers Plot Huge Pivot to HTML5

This week it was the turn of Amazon to pile misery on Adobe Flash: the plug-in currently under a serious amount of pressure as its list of big-name backers shedded another valuable member

Gone are the days when Flash was the go-to choice for running a wide variety of creative on the web. Advertisers, publishers and web users in general now have access to HTML5: a slow burner in terms of adoption by campaign managers but now gaining traction as a far faster and safer way of running media on the web.  

Of course, those in the know will be aware that Amazon’s decision to eliminate Flash inventory on its ad network is confirming what now seems inevitable. 

All the reports of vulnerabilities, sluggish loading times in an age where speed through technology is a given, adding to an almost incomprehensible lack of mobile readiness appear to be catching up with Adobe, and there was little need for Google and Mozilla to justify why they would be abandoning Flash - a “developmental dead end” - on Chrome and Firefox respectively.

Tech reporters have been similarly unforgiving about a technology so prevalent yet so unreliable in equal measure. Occasionally someone playing devil’s advocate will look to cut through the noise surrounding a big industry update, but articles such as the one penned by The Guardian’s Samuel Gibbs describing Flash’s demise as a “good thing” due the fact “hackers love it” have been some of the most widely shared.

We’ve heard it from the press; the tech companies that facilitate our browsing experiences. It’s now time for advertisers to pick a side in time for the end-of-year sales rush. 
 
“The main thing advertisers have to do is knuckle down and rebuild all their Fall and Christmas creative in HTML5,” is the advice of Aden Forshaw, CTO of video advertising platform Coull. Simple steps, then. But only taken to avoid running into some serious issues when the next big-name company decides to pull their backing of Flash. 

Forshaw admits that campaign rebuilds will represent a “pain point” for a while as ill-prepared advertisers get their heads around HTML5. In the meantime, there is a clear need for tools like Google’s very own DIY HTML5 ad creator for easing the transition process, and also awareness of some of the finer details around the proposed shift.

For example, HTML5 creative files are much larger than those passing through Flash and users may encounter loading issues without the correct foundations in place. For all its faults, Flash has also garnered praise for its ease-of-use in terms of click tracking and ad creation. HTML5 will need to be able to compete in these crucial areas but it can only be a positive that companies like Google aren’t abandoning advertisers without a solution.

In a time of action, Forshaw insists that communication among partners will be key to avoiding slip-ups along the way. What will hopefully emerge from the wreckage is something that sets up an ad-supported web for the long term. 

It’s hard not to find amusement out of the fact that something so criticised, supposedly outdated and hacker-friendly is present on 10.3% of all websites - five years after Steve Jobs cited mobile performance and battery consumption as reasons why Flash wouldn’t run on iOS devices like the iPhone and iPad.   

In short, it makes sense for companies to collaborate in order to devise a solution that will last, and HTML5 is the ideal backdrop.

“Apart from ensuring technical issues are overcome, the most important move an advertiser can make is to talk to the publishers and networks whose inventory they access, and work together to iron out the inevitable bumps in the road ahead,” Forshaw adds. 

“Communication is going to be key as the industry moves towards establishing tried and tested standards over the next six months.”

Publishers should be well aware of the script after hearing YouTube and Facebook moving over to HTML5 in recent months. Furthermore, the status and power of those steering away from Flash is making the news seem all the more convincing, and a ‘trend’ tagline all the more unjust. 

Come September 1, when Amazon and Google say goodbye to Flash, companies like Coull are predicting a huge decrease in accessible inventory for the advertisers that maintain a framework supporting the plug-in. 

A conclusion? Easy. If Flash really is set to die a death “by 1,000 cuts”, the big move starts now.

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Richard Towey

Richard Towey

Richard serves as head of content at PerformanceIN. After many years spent covering developments from the automotive, sports, travel and finance sectors, he eventually turned his full attention to reporting on stories from the fast-evolving world of digital marketing. Richard now heads up the editorial team at PerformanceIN: the performance marketing industry's leading publication.  

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