In recent months, the impending end of Flash has been sounding alarm bells – but has our industry taken it seriously? The initial battle with Flash began in 2010, when the late Steve Jobs of Apple declared Flash unnecessary – a security risk, and resources heavy. Until recently, Flash remained at the forefront, as the mainstay of rich media advertising.
However, the latest string of malvertising schemes to hit popular networks via Flash banners is adding fuel to the fire, and the waves of negative headlines seem to have sped up the process of elimination, as declared in June:
Malvertising hits AOL network – January 6, 2015
Mozilla Firefox officially disables Flash – July 13, 2015
Malvertising hits Yahoo network – August 3, 2015
Malvertising hits MSN network – August 28, 2015
Effective September 1, Google Chrome will join Firefox and Safari in automatically disabling any Flash animation deemed unessential to website content— this change means that all Flash advertising will be disabled by default on up to 90% of browsers used today. Instead of an eye-catching animation, users will see a static back-up image, or worse, a frozen frame of animation.
This isn’t just a phase. The industry is moving towards standardizing on HTML5 as the format of choice for all rich media advertising. In August, the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) released an update to their universal creative guidelines for public comment. The draft heavily favours HTML5 formats and removing elements related to Flash. Once the final IAB guidelines are released later this year, it will officially become a countdown towards the elimination of Flash advertising altogether.
This isn’t just a phase. The industry is moving towards standardizing on HTML5 as the format of choice for all rich media advertising.
In an effort to quickly get on board the HTML5 train, many industry-folk are experimenting with automated conversion tools; unfortunately, for the most part, these tools provide an imperfect solution. Similar to using an automated language translator, where some words in a phrase get lost in translation or a clever expression is misunderstood entirely, an automated conversion tool often results in files that are missing key elements and/or functions.
While these tools can function well for basic use cases, for complex animations or when quality is a paramount concern, nothing beats having a skilled designer complete the conversion manually to ensure that every converted element performs as expected.
It’s a worthy investment to explore HTML5 capabilities now and develop a plan on how to update and convert your existing Flash assets.
Luckily, HTML5 has been established for quite some time, and knowledge and expertise of the coding language does exist. Investing in or growing HTML5 talent is now key to retaining the magic of rich media. HTML5 is not only capable of re-creating Flash-based animations and functionality, but it provides a whole slew of additional benefits: chief among them quicker loading time and cross-screen compatibility. HTML5 is a universal Web language understood by modern-day browsers and one that is poised to flex with the rapidly evolving Web.
If you haven’t already, now is the crucial time to take your Flash to HTML5 transition seriously. While we as an industry await new creative guidelines, it’s a worthy investment to explore HTML5 capabilities now and develop a plan on how to update and convert your existing Flash assets. As HTML5 transitions to the new standard for rich media, would you want to be aboard the train or left running behind?