Rich Media Could Be The Hardest Hit In The Flash Fallout

galbarneaData-Driven Thinking” is written by members of the media community and contains fresh ideas on the digital revolution in media.

Today’s column is written by Gal Barnea, chief technology officer at Eyeview.

Over the past few weeks we’ve seen a massive shift in the Flash and HTML5 balance as more Flash security flaws are exposed and major browsers take action. In June, Google announced Chrome would automatically block most Flash elements on portable devices. Last week, Firefox announced it would block Flash by default. At the same time, Facebook’s chief security officer called for an end-of-life date for Flash.

Since Flash has been one of the core technologies that fuels ad tech, its death will unquestionably have a meaningful impact on the digital ad ecosystem. Brand advertising decision-makers must pay close attention or face a fairly quick hit to their revenue. Advertisers need to think strategically about what they are doing to help their brand adapt to this change and maintain marketing efficiency.

In my opinion, the corner of digital advertising ecosystem that will feel the biggest impact is rich media and interactive video. Rich media is not only display-specific formats, like home page takeovers, expandable banners and interactive forms, but also dynamic data-driven banners and interactive video. Marketers use these rich and interactive capabilities extensively across campaigns, so with Flash dying, they need to understand the impact on the campaigns they’re running and be prepared to adjust their marketing strategy toward more simplistic, yet engaging and scalable executions.

First and foremost, users are at the center of the industry shift caused by the demise of Flash. They are becoming increasingly aware of the risks of Flash, as can be seen by the high volume of Google searches for the terms “blocking Flash” and “disable Flash.” As the impact of Flash blockers grows, and with less Flash-enabled inventory available, the complex and “flashy” interactive executions that brands so often look for is reaching a smaller audience.

Rich media does support HTML5, but not to the extent that most advertisers want. This inability to deliver and engage with audiences at scale will be a significant setback for rich media companies, which may struggle to meet market demands and face declining revenue and growth.

Marketers, on the other hand, will be forced to find alternative means of investment to rich media and new ways to deliver impactful advertising. Advertisers need to focus on investing more in quality content – simple, yet impactful and engaging ads — and less on the attention-grabbing elements with all the bells and whistles. Consider the standard formats of video, image and text that will efficiently scale across devices, browsers and audiences.

Ultimately, the move away from Flash is a good thing. I think it’s fantastic because it will move the industry toward a newer, more open and secure ad tech infrastructure that is standardized across devices. It may take some time to get there, and although rich media companies will feel the brunt of it, it’s a positive move forward for an industry that today is overly reliant on an outdated technology that many have come to know and loathe.

See you later, Flash. You will not be missed.

Follow Eyeview (@EyeviewDigital) and AdExchanger (@adexchanger) on Twitter.

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1 Comment

  1. Interesting but the issue is not with Flash ads and either their efficacy or their value, its with the fact that the majority of these vendors are simply lazy and do what they’ve done because that’s what they’ve always done. Flash is so much easier than HTML5 or video. But,

    Flash ads dont produce higher CTR’s or provide better engagement. They are no different than any other format in that regard. What they do offer is a easy way to wow the creative director and CMO with visual gimmicks and other, meaningless to consumer effects. One need not look further than the metrics on these units to see that they have virtually no value to anyone but the agency paid to make them, the rich media server paid to serve them and the “award ceremonies” that cull their income from their fake pay-to-play awards.