Autoplaying Flash ads have become increasingly troublesome to web users, as many advertising networks rely on Flash ads to supply the interactive and attention-grabbing creativity that keeps the money flowing, and publishers afloat. The reason for user frustration with Flash ads is simple. Flash ads are generally resource hogs, and can lead to significant impact on page load times, and battery life. Apple famously chose to never support Flash, at all, on mobile devices.
Google is joining the industry trend towards restricting the use of Flash ads in web content. The Register reports that from September 1, only “important” Flash will be allowed to run, whereas ads, and other “non-important” Flash content will be automatically blocked. It is reported that users will have to actively choose to run plugins that Chrome disables by default.
Google is recommending that advertisers make the move to HTML5 ads, as these support a wider range of devices and come with less performance and battery issues than Flash. However, they note that, where possible, they are converting ads on their network from Flash to HTML5.
“Eligible Flash campaigns are automatically converted to HTML5 when you upload them in AdWords, AdWords Editor, and many third-party tools.”
Users who aren’t using any ad blocking software will receive a temporary reprieve from a lot of advertising due to the prevalence of Flash ads. However, as Business Insider notes, it’s likely that that Google will be able to use Chrome’s large market share, reported to be 28 percent, to influence advertisers into switching from Flash ads to HTML5. This means many sites will quickly see a return of advertising as “grayed out” Flash ads are replaced with fully functional HTML5 ads.
They could be right, as Ars Technica reported that Amazon has quickly followed suit and banned Flash ads from their site from September 1. Expect to see many more sites and networks follow suit, as the impact of losing 28 percent of impressions in the form of “grayed out” Flash ads becomes clear to advertisers.
The good news for users is that the new ads, unlike Flash Ads, will load much more quickly, and deplete their battery more slowly. Overall, HTML5 ads present a much less intrusive experience for end users than Flash ads.
It’s not just speed and battery issues that have blighted Flash, with some ads and other applications blighted by regular Flash security issues. Computerworld reported earlier this month that Facebook was concerned that those security issues could “hurt its business.”
Flash has had a good innings, and has provided vital services to web users with video players, games, and interactive content, and to advertisers with Flash ads. Perhaps it’s time, though, for newer, faster, and more secure technology to take its place. Google and Apple are leading the way to make that happen.
[Photo by Justin Sullivan / Getty Images]