Farewell to Flash: what it means for digital video publishers
Not too long ago, Flash powered a high percentage of the Internet’s vast array of videocontent. Today, that number is lower. But make no mistake, there are still many Flash-powered multimedia items on the web, including graphics, videos, games and animations, like GIFs, a preferred method of expression for millennials and adults alike.
We’ve been watching HTML5 impede on Flash for a while, and it’s now taking center stage, establishing itself as a predominant creative format, validated by the recent moves by Google and Mozilla that are only helping to accelerate that transition.
Over the years, Flash has become famous for a few less-than flattering features that can all play a role in hindering user experience, including intrusive experiences, increasing page-load times, lowering a site’s search engine optimization (SEO) and security flaws.
Despite all these grievances, the digital-video advertising industry has been forced to use Flash because of VPAID (Video Player-Ad Interface Definition), a standard that allows a video ad and avideo player to communicate with each other. VPAID provides a way to dynamically swap or customize video-ad creative based on ad decisions, and has long been used for Flash-based video ads on desktops.
When you consider the fact that Flash needs to be installed (as opposed to HTML5, which requires no installation), it’s easy to see why in the long term, it didn’t stand a chance. Some would argue that Apple’s refusal to ever support it should have been a sign of things to come.
However, it’s important to remember that Flash was developed in a time where the desktop was king. The long load times it commands simply aren’t conducive to mobile environments — a deal-breaker for today’s mobile-first world.
What does the change mean for publishers?
In spite of all this, for digital-video publishers, excitement may not be the initial emotion evoked by Flash‘s funeral. With the goal of increasing browsing speed and reducing power consumption for users, Google’s Chrome desktop browser announced their formerly opt-in setting that pauses plug-in content that isn’t considered essential to the webpage will become a default setting by early September.
This means that if publishers don’t upgrade their format specification, some or all of theirvideo content may no longer be available for people to view; this will certainly affect viewer loyalty and monetization efforts.