At the beginning of September, Google Chrome started to block Flash Player ads. Flash Player ads are animated web advertisements that employ complex animations and sounds and are often interactive (meaning they “react” based on what the user does). The Chrome browser now “pauses” these ads and the user must click the ad in order for it to play.
Google says that Flash increases page load time, sucks away at device battery life, and generally degrades user experience. As a result, they have blocked any Adobe Flash content on a webpage that isn’t considered “central” to the site. The change ran as part of a beta version of Chrome back in July.
Adobe Flash has acknowledged that the future of online advertising lies in converting from Flash to HTML5, though the company said that there’s still work to be done to help the industry transition.
“Updating the ‘IAB Display Creative Guidelines’ is only the first step in the process of helping the industry transition into an HTML5 dominant landscape,” said Sarah Hunt, Senior Product Manager at Adobe and co-chair of the IAB HTML5 for Digital Advertising Guidance Working Group, in a press release. “Expert advice and guidance is going to be necessary in order to allow HTML5 to live up to its promise of delivering rich, immersive digital advertising creative that is cost-effective and looks great on both desktop and mobile screens.”
Flash has been a popular technology to use in building ads for the last twenty years. But Google is not the first to complain about it degrading device performance and user experience. Amazon also stopped supporting Flash ads on September 1, 2015. Apple doesn’t support Flash on its non-desktop devices for performance reasons.
As an alternative to Flash, Google suggests that advertisers use HTML5 technology for their ads. HTML is the basic language of the web and is used to describe how web browsers should display text, images and video. HTML5 functions similarly to Flash but with more efficient performance across a wide range of devices.
Google offers tools to help marketers build HTML5 ads, and to convert their Flash ads over to HTML5. In August, the Interactive Advertising Bureau urged marketers to move over from Flash to HTML5 with updated “Creative Guidelines.”