Google says no to Flash

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  • July 6, 2015

After 15 years, is this the end of Flash on the web? 

Back in 2010, then Apple CEO Steve Jobs sent shockwaves through the industry when he announced that the iPhone wouldn’t support Adobe Flash1. One of the reasons he cited in Apple making the decision was battery life.
Fast-forward to 2013, and Adobe themselves stopped shipping Flash for Android devices through the Google Play store2.
In 2014, mobile devices overtook desktop for internet connectivity for the first time meaning around 50% of consumers could no longer see Flash content on their device.
This year sales of traditional desktop PCs are continuing to decline, but portable PC (hybrid, laptop, ultrabook) sales are taking an upturn3. The problem here, of course, is that portable PCs use batteries. Google have announced that future versions of their Chrome browser will pause Flash items that “aren’t central to the webpage” by default4. This initiative is designed to help improve battery life on portable PCs. Initial testing shows that this setting affects Flash digital display advertising, showing either a play button over the advertisement to play the Flash version, or the animated GIF version.

Play button over the first frame of a Flash ad

Play button over the first frame of a Flash ad

As the first frame of the ad is displayed, this could be a solid colour such as black or white if the content is designed to appear with an effect. This gives the user no indication of who the advertisement is for, as is this case with this ad for Jemena Natural Gas.

Play button over blank first frame of a Flash ad

Play button over blank first frame of a Flash ad

The impact of this is bigger than you might expect with the PC version of Chrome currently sitting at just over 25% market share5.
Combine this with mobile users and over 60% of devices on the web will no longer see Flash-based digital display advertising.
Building ads in HTML5/CSS3, and having all advertising networks and publishers in Australia supporting this format as standard, has now become imperative.

This commentary prompted the following article by Max Mason for Fairfax.
Ads not so flash article

1 Thoughts on Flash
2 Flash no longer available in Google Play store for Android
3 IDC: 2014 Sales Show PC Isn’t Dead, But Desktop May be Dying
4 Better battery life for your laptop
5 Desktop browser version market share

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