Back in June 2015, Google announced that Chrome will begin pausing many Flash ads by default, in order to improve browsing performance for users.
This change began rolling out on September 1, 2015. The good news is that AdWords and DoubleClick have been working hard to ensure that flash ads that have been uploaded will automatically be converted to HTML5, to ensure they continue to display on the Google Display Network (GDN).
Similarly, DoubleClick has a tool called Swiffy, which will convert Flash files to a HTML5 equivalent.
Why are these changes happening? Well, thanks to the evolution of technology, the web is now an incredibly interactive, rich media arena, where engaging experiences are the norm. However, Apple’s products have never supported Flash, and with smartphones now the device of choice, HTML5 (the best Flash alternative) began to come to prominence.
Google on the other hand, has an alternative motive. They are heavily pushing page speed, and doing everything they can to speed up browser performance and save battery life. Flash, as well as other plugin content, decreased page load speed and impacted battery life and overall user performance. Thus, Flash content, such as ads or auto-playing videos on non-video websites, are now automatically paused by default — but you can click to play them if you wish. That makes many ads look…well…a little odd.
Whilst the changes are great for consumers, the ad industry may not be so enthusiastic. The vast majority of online advertising still uses Flash, even on mobile devices. Given consumer technology has moved on, the ad industry hasn’t. So, with Google leading the charge, it’s time for ad networks and affiliate networks to evolve.
Google Chrome currently has around a 50% browser market share globally, so this change is significant. Internet Explorer (all versions) and Firefox each have around 17% market share, so it is the majority of consumers that will be impacted.
Affiliate networks especially have been very slow to react, with many publishers still serving Flash banners to affiliate partners that are over 2 years old, and no option for affiliates to serve HTML5 banners. For optimum performance – for consumers and publishers – this simply isn’t good enough.
Google is leading the charge, and Amazon has been swift to follow, an update to their advertising guidelines showing they will stop accepting Flash on September 1, which they say will ensure “customers continue to have a positive, consistent experience on Amazon.”
Brands, publishers, ad networks and affiliate networks were warned about the change in June. Google Chrome just put another nail in the Flash coffin. Long live HTML5.