Google Is Taking a Big Step to Kill Off Flash for Good

1 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Advertising Armageddon Coming In September With The Death Of Flash.

That means that videos and animations in ads using Adobe’s Flash technology will no longer autoplay in the world’s most-used browser. New Delhi: Starting September 1, Google will block all Flash content on its Chrome browser, including ads, or auto-play videos on non-video sites that aren’t central to the webpage.Back in June, Google announced it would be rolling out “power save” mode in Chrome in order to increase page load speed and reduce power consumption by blocking various plugins, including Flash.

Flash has powered a large portion of online banner and video ads over the past 20 years, but Google says the format increases page-load speeds and device battery consumption, and generally degrades user experience. Google had introduced the Flash-blocking feature in a beta version of Chrome earlier this year, citing reasons for the blocking being battery life which is consumed more by Flash ads. As part of this change, Chrome will automatically pause Flash content that is not considered central to a user’s experience, including Flash-based video and display ads. The decision, first revealed in June on Google+, is the latest nail in Flash’s coffin, which is great news for the web: Flash is a bloated, insecure battery hog, and it deserves to die. If you happen to be one of those people who have multiple tabs and windows open when browsing the web, sometimes searching for that lone and mysterious tab with the speaker icon can itself be frustrating.

Flash advertisements can be invasive, cloying, and general all-around nuisances—facts that make Google’s recent announcement that they will be blocking Flash ads and auto-playing videos not related to content a welcome change of pace. As an alternative to Flash, Google suggests advertisers use HTML5 technology for their ads, which works across a wide range of devices and provides similar functionality to Flash but with more efficient performance.

Although Google already automatically converts most Flash ads placed on its AdWords network to HTML5, other sites will simply stop accepting Flash ads entirely. Last month, Mozilla blocked Flash from running on its Firefox browser until Adobe released a new version that fixed some particularly egregious security problems that were revealed in a leak of security company Hacking Team’s internal documents. Though it is reportedly a nod toward saving battery life, many sources have pointed out the potential to decrease malware associated with auto-playing ads; additionally, this choice to eliminate the most obtrusive of ads may result in fewer people installing an adblocker, which will help Google generate more revenue in the long run.

But other ad networks and technology providers may have to tweak their offerings to ensure the ads they sell and create are actually loaded into users’ browsers. Safari never supported Flash content, Amazon banned Flash ads on their ad platform, and Firefox also made a similar move back in July, blocking all Flash on the browser due to reported security risks. Switching to HTML5 will also likely save on bandwidth and CPU data usage, which will result in both faster system responses and the aforementioned reduced battery usage. In its favor, tech companies like Amazon, Google, Mozilla, Microsoft and advertiser trade groups like the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) are pushing for the rapid adoption of HTML5. Those of us who have been putting up with frozen screens and hidden audio segments are cheering, but the world of advertising is in for a radical change: Flash is still the predominant site content facilitator (I swear I updated it, like, two hours ago), and with that option gone, companies are going to have to resort to HTML5.

Chrome has been accused of eating up a laptop’s battery, thereby driving users to alternatives like Mozilla or Apple’s (AAPL – Analyst Report) Safari. This means no more “Where’s that sound coming from?” moments when an ad for instance decides to autoplay in a tab you’ve specifically opened in the background.

No complete overhaul of a routine system goes smoothly—copious amounts of time and money will be spent adapting current ad formats to the HTML5 model. Also, it will save the systems from security vulnerabilities inherent in Flash that are regularly targeted by hackers, affecting both Windows and Mac users.

The new Safari and iOS 9 will support native content blocking tools for developers that will block content on websites to help improve speed and performance. Apple’s plan to make it easier to block ads on iPhones and iPads is troubling publishers and heightening tensions with its Silicon Valley neighbors, including Google. As to when we’ll finally be able to start enjoying a more pleasurable browsing experience, expect the aforementioned feature to be ready for wide release sometime between October and mid-November. With Flash—the long-time bane of mobile marketing—going by the wayside, advertising will finally be compatible across the board, meaning that mobile users can look forward to smoother-running sites—and advertisers can consolidate and simplify their ad campaigns accordingly. That’s why we’re introducing a way to automatically convert Flash ads to HTML5, giving advertisers better access to the portion of Google Display Network inventory that is HTML5-only.

Eligible Flash campaigns, both existing and new, will now be automatically converted to HTML5 when uploaded through AdWords, AdWords Editor, and many 3rd party tools.” You can use Google’s Swiffy tool to determine if your Flash ad is eligible for conversion to HTML5. Yahoo stated that, “Yahoo has been working hard to accelerate its support of HTML5, and is ready to accept HTML5 creatives across display and video. It is offering three ways in which the ads can be translated- enable AdWords to automatically translate the Flash ads, create new HTML5 ads with the tools, or upload a new HTML5 ad from a third-party server. We have enabled some short-term workarounds, including browser de-targeting for display ads, to ensure that our clients’ campaigns run without issue.” If your various PPC advertising campaigns are running flash ads, this change is something that should be further explored.

The biggest blow to Flash-based advertisers (with a trickle-down effect to publishers) will be Google’s move to automatically pause animated Flash ads in Chrome. If flash ads are just a small portion of your current ad inventory and their results have not been historically any better than static ads, then there is nothing to worry about here. After spyware vendor Hacking Team was exploited in mid-July (and thus exposing several Flash vulnerabilities), the push to kill off Flash has been gaining steam. When Yahoo’s ad network was attacked based on the exposed Flash vulnerabilities, the entire ad industry woke up to the fact that Flash was not just a minor problem for other vendors, but an issue that will need to be fixed on the entire Web. The short-term effect for publishers and advertisers will be that the supply side of the advertising chain will decrease as Flash ads prove unviable in the wild.

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