Good-bye Flash. Hello HTML5.
A lot has changed since Slingshot developed the first HTML banner ever placed on the Internet. Today, Flash is out and HTML5 is in. How will this affect your next online campaign? Here are some things we’ve encountered leading the transition for our clients.
First, it’s important to understand why people are now abandoning Flash like it was the Titanic. The steady uptick in mobile and tablet usage, which has been Flash-free since Steve Jobs famously penned his Thoughts on Flash, has been the icy undercurrent weakening Flash. The iceberg struck this September as Google Chrome joined browsers such as Firefox and Safari in disabling flash content by default, citing performance issues and security concerns over advertising malware.
This means that flash banner ads are “paused” when pages load, forcing users to click to “play” them. According to sources, ads will only be counted as an impression once a user clicks to view it. This however will lead to a significant decrease in impression counts. The concern is that overall banner engagement will drop along with banner click-through rates.
Enter HTML5, which the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) has named their new standard for interactive creative and has recently released updated guidelines for its use. The good news is advertisers are seeing some positive results after switching. Ad serving network, Sizmek has published cases demonstrating interaction rate increases of more than 14% and waste decreases of 75% for clients who have transitioned to HTML5 already.
So what do you need to consider before launching that next big online campaign?
File Size Limitations
Where Flash compressed complex animations into little 40kb files, HTML5 produces larger files. This has been the biggest disruption from an ad serving perspective. We are in ongoing discussions with our ad serving partners and monitoring how they adjust their specs and pricing models following the IAB announcement. Initially, ad-serving costs will increase as file sizes increase. However, we expect HTML5 to quickly become the standard and for ad servers to increase their file size limits/decrease costs accordingly. We’re already seeing this type of adoption in other countries, such as Canada. We recommend proactive discussions with ad serving partners in the early media planning stages to confirm sizes and costs.
As a general rule it can sometimes take three times as long to make the first version of an HTML5 ad compared to Flash. This is due to the increased amount of research, experimentation and testing across the different browsers to get the animation to render properly. It’s also important to keep in mind that animation in HTML5 isn’t always as robust as Flash, so keeping the animation simple is helpful. We recommend consulting with your programmers in the early conceptual stages of the banner design process to ensure animation is achievable and allowing more time upfront to build out the initial creative versions.
There is no difference in the way media attaches and traffics tags however, not all current third-party ad verification solutions fully support HTML5. Some are still putting those systems in place as quickly as they can. We recommend identifying upfront which verification solutions you intend to use and making sure their HTML5 capabilities will ensure your new creative executions are verified properly.
We believe that in addition to HTML5 banners, campaigns that include solutions such as animated GIFs and static ads with strong calls-to-action should be considered as part of an overarching strategy. This mix of creative provides the opportunity to optimize the campaign to the highest performing creative executions regardless of file format.
Clearly, the entire industry has more work to do to make the transition to HTML5 but it’s a change that has to be made. In some ways, being essentially forced to give up Flash may be the push everyone needs to truly adopt HTML5 and solve for the current challenges.
If you find yourself with more questions about the transition to HTML5, contact us to learn more.