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Google Display Ads Must Use HTML5

Display Advertising: Google’s Phaseout of Flash Shines Spotlight on Consumer Experience

May 23rd, 2016   ||    by Monta Monaco Hernon

Google has issued a mandate to developers and marketers wishing to continue with display advertising on the Google Display Network or through DoubleClick: Switch to HTML5.

As of July 2016, the search engine will no longer allow display ads built in Adobe Flash to be uploaded into AdWords and DoubleClick Digital Marketing. And, beginning in January 2017, Google will only run display advertising on the Google Display Network, or through DoubleClick that uses Adobe Flash Format. The move does not affect video ads at this time.

One of the reasons cited by Google for the move was to prevent users from being infected by malware. The Flash platform has been plagued by security threats making it difficult for IT departments to protect their systems. Adobe has issued 22 critical security patches for the Flash-player plug-in for several browsers in just one day, according to MediaPost.

Incompatibility Issues

Flash is not supported by a number of mobile platforms either, and so, as Google has said, the move to HTML5 will “enhance the browsing experience for more people on more devices.” In fact, over 32 percent of Flash ads are not viewable on mobile devices, according to the International Advertising Bureau U.K. This means 5.35 billion ads were wasted in the 1Q 2015 alone, the MediaPost article said.

Both the security issues and the incompatibility of Flash with mobile devices have implications for consumer perception of the advertiser. If the ad won’t display, or worse yet, somehow infects the user’s computer or network, the company’s brand will not only miss out on the positive association intended by the issuance of the ad, but actually could be impacted negatively by it.

Furthermore, if the ad is replaced by a generic “canned” one, which has sometimes been the case if compatibility with Flash was an issue, the benefits of programmatic are diminished. Part of the draw of advertising online has been the ability to target the end-user. If a message cannot be seen by part of an intended audience, the reach is limited and the success of the campaign will likely be as well.

Consumer Experience

Whereas consumers used to chalk glitches in Internet-related services as the trials of a new technology, the web has become so ingrained in daily life that buffering, slow searching or loading of web pages, and pop-up ads are no longer tolerated. Recognizing this, many enterprises have stopped using Flash already, and Google has made several additional moves over the past year. For example, Flash ads are automatically converted to HTML5 for devices that are not compatible with Flash; they are paused in Google Chrome, and HTML5 is the default for YouTube, according to Marketing Land.

While this deals strictly with digital advertising, there are takeaways to be had for programmatic TV. One of the primary is that this is the age of the consumer. If a viewer won’t tolerate inconveniences or inconsistencies in their web browsing, they aren’t likely to accept poor quality on their television screen, where they expect good picture and sound in addition to seamless service.

As noted, the switch from Flash indicates that the marketing industry sees the benefit from targeting. If they are selecting and narrowing their audience based on certain characteristics, they want all of those end users, no matter the device or browser, to see the contextual ad. Programmatic TV, which combines data-driven analysis an automation, brings the benefits of targeting to television as well.

For more information on Programmatic TV, contact Videa.

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