For many years, the .swf, better known as the Flash file, has been the standard format for animated banner and display ads. However, with recent changes, Flash isn’t supported on most mobile devices. In the words of Steve Jobs, flash is, "abysmal" when it comes to security and often slows down or crashes audiences' web browsers.
A recent report by Sizmik showed advertisers continue to run Flash on mobile devices even though 98% of the time it never displays. Major changes are on the horizon and Tipping Point Communications decided to no longer recommend and accept Flash animated ads in order to better serve our clients and achieve their marketing objectives.
This September, Google is taking major steps that will affect marketers and advertisers and the file formats they use for online advertisements. New versions of the company's Chrome Browser will automatically pause autoplay Flash files that are not the main focus of the page. If a user is watching a video on a site, it will continue to autoplay. The video ads and flash animated banners all around it won't. Instead, a play button will appear over the video and a user will have to click on the button to view the animation.
For the 64% of Web surfers using Chrome, the animation in ads likely won't be seen. Considering the low .05% click-through rate we have come to expect from viewers who see autoplay animated ads and choose to take an action, we don't have high hopes that users will scroll through a webpage and click to opt into advertising. Marketers and advertisers will need to be innovative when it comes to digital ads and videos in order for them to be seen and resonate with their target audience.
So what is the alternative to Flash? HTML5. This web technology provides advanced capabilities not only to animate ads but to make them more interactive. The .swf will be replaced with full HTML documents that will act like a mini website in the same standard ad space available for purchase now. Anyone with a workflow reliant on Flash will need to invest in programmers who understand the many technologies and languages that go into making HTML5 ads.
We have prepared The Marketer's Guide to HTML5 for our clients and partners to start this process complete with an introduction to HTML5, documentation and tools to get started.
In the interim, animated GIFs will continue to autoplay. We anticipate seeing animated GIFs before agencies can fully implement and create HTML5 ads.
The end of Flash in advertising is rapidly approaching for the industry and will soon be replaced with HTML5. Tipping Point Communications is committed to making our clients’ ads viewable and visible. To learn more about HTML5 ads and how this change affects your marketing and advertising, contact us today.