This may be the last nail.
Adobe Flash—the software that has frustrated users and made millions in advertising in the process—may finally be dead in the water, thanks to Google.
Today Google Chrome released an update that gives you back the power. Those videos you frantically try to close before accepting your 30-60 seconds of fate? It’s automatically paused in the latest update.
I asked marketing analyst Bryan Yeager at emarketer.com what this means for publishers and users alike. The first thing he said was that, even if users preferred it, this is not an ad blocker.
“I think it’s important to parse out exactly what Google is doing when it comes to Flash,” says Yeager. “It is pausing Flash content from loading and giving users the option to enable that content where it is designed to appear on the screen. This feature operates differently than ad blockers, which prevent most ad content from appearing on the page at all.”
Yeager says there are existing browser extensions, like FlashControl, that already to this. But having it as part of the core system is a significant difference to the system as a whole than opt-in extensions. But the bigger point is that a lot more content that’s no longer mandatory to the majority of users.
“Content” is the key word here, because this doesn’t necessarily target ads only. Yeager says it’s “any plugin-based content (including Flash) on a website that is peripheral to the main page. That could include pausing a Flash video set to auto-play on a website that doesn’t have an embedded player.” Yeager says Flash on YouTube or Vimeo will still work, “but Flash auto-play video ads on news website may not load automatically.”
Still, he says the change will have arguably the biggest impact on ad content. Yeager points to a report that said 90 percent of rich media ad impressions from ad management platform Sizmek in Q1 of 2015 were Flash-based banner ads.
But even the non-ad side of Flash is going to take a hit from the change. Yeager says users may not necessarily be able to tell whether the Flash content is ad or non-ad content, but that’s good for user experience. “Ultimately, it gives more control to users around dealing with all Flash content on the web, which is great because Flash is frequently deemed unsecure and also hogs substantial computer processing power—especially if you have a lot of browser tabs open with pages that include Flash content.”
Yeager says the other good news (for publishers) is that the ad industry is moving away from Flash as “the de facto standard for creating and delivering rich media ads. The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) recently released a new draft of its display ad creative format guidelines, which pushes for HTML5 as the new standard for rich media ads to replace Flash. Adobe, the creator of Flash, is also on board with this move, and has been working to build new creative tools that make it easier for designers to create rich media ads in HTML5.”
Here Yeager says is the future of advertising online—something that makes the whole process of seeing ads much easier than it is now. “My hope is that the shift to HTML5 opens up new creative possibilities with digital advertising that are compelling and not intrusive or annoying to users. It’s really up to publishers, advertisers and agencies to make that happen, though, regardless of the technology.”
Yeager says he doesn’t think you’re going to see Flash go away completely, but “as fewer users are able to load Flash by default, fewer publishers accept Flash content for ads and more guidelines, tools and workflows for HTML5 ad creation and delivery become available, Flash will gradually disappear in favor of more modern, fast and secure options.”
That’s great to here for those of us that hate a sudden explosion of content that takes a while to boot up, when all we want is celeb gossip, cat photos, and the occasional technology story.