About a month ago, Google announced an impending update to their Chrome browser that has left many advertisers, developers, and designers with just a few short weeks to figure out a long-term strategy for animating their display ads with HTML5 instead of Flash-based animation.
Wait, what? Let’s take a step back.
Flash animation, the typical method used to animate display banners and other animated digital assets like videos and websites, will be automatically disabled in Google’s Chrome browser (which represents nearly 30% of the global browser market) on September 1, 2015.
Flash built assets, and especially Flash ad creative, allows your audience to enjoy the power of moving images, but can also impact browser speed and device battery life. Google has known this for a good long while now, and they aren’t early-movers. In fact, Flash ads have already automatically disabled on iOS devices and certain other browsers since last year, so it’s time to get ready. The key difference between these existing non- Flash environments and this Google update, is that while iOS and other browsers would not accept Flash, they would accept a non-animated “back up” banner that accompanies Flash-animated creative. This Chrome update will not accept a static “default” and will instead grey over the banner requiring the consumer to click to banner to activation the animation.
So what’s going to happen to Flash ads in Chrome on September 1?
Unless the user initiates a click on the ad, the ad will show an error message.
As a marketer, you know how many resources are invested just get a click from a compelling and beautifully designed piece of ad creative, so this play button simply won’t do!
So what can you do to avoid this play button of doom? Well, basically, Google is recommending you build your animated banners in HTML5 from now on, or find another static solution, such as plain banner ads or even .gifs, which look animated but are technically “static” file types. HTML5 is complex and unfamiliar to many designers, which can cause some uncertainty and therefore uneasiness amongst marketers and developers.
Like everything else, however, there are pros and cons to using HTML5:
– Wider distribution on all devices
– Distribution to non-Flash devices like iOS
– Less inventory competition on some high-value sites
– HTML5 allows for more cross-device compatibility, so it’s helpful for those looking to “up” their mobile marketing game.
– Decreased ability to perform complex animation sequences (smaller file sizes are required)
– HTML5 is complex and unfamiliar to many designers
Fortunately, there are a lot of tools available to help make this transition as easy as possible. Google highly recommends your HTML5 designer/developer use a tool called Google Web Designer. It’s free – there are no hosting fees that other HTML5 developers charge for similar tools. Google even offers a certification for web designers who learn how to use the program. You can earn more about Google Web Designer here. While you’re still testing out issues, it’s also a great idea to produce a static backup of your animated ads, just in case.
If you have a digital marketing partner who is assisting with your display advertising campaigns, you should ask them how they’re addressing this important update.
Do you use Flash animated creative? How are you addressing Google’s September 1st Chrome update?