As September 1st and “the death of Flash” rapidly approach, we want to put marketers’ worries to rest. When one door closes, a better one opens, and a transition to HTML is a surmountable obstacle for those brands up to the challenge.
However, there are some fundamental differences between HTML and Flash that marketers need to know first – from specifics in workflow and development tools to video formats and browser variations.
Recently, the IAB has released an update to the “IAB Display Creative Guidelines” for public comment, an overhaul that fully embraces HTML5. Cofactor (Shoplocal + PointRoll) played a vital role in the development of these guidelines, and was acknowledged in their press release.
Last week, we sat down with Cofactor’s Lead Creative Technology Director Dan Mouradian to ask him some of the most pressing questions surrounding the transition brands and agencies will face when looking to convert their ads from Flash to HTML.
Here is Part 2 of our conversation.
Q: Apple, Adobe, and Google have all played major roles in the decline of Flash. However, the rise of mobile is probably the biggest reason for its decline — as it becomes the first screen for consumers. Are mobile experiences defining how brands and agencies are adopting HTML?
Dan Mouradian: Yes, mobile is definitely a huge reason HTML has gained popularity, and why certain innovations for HTML have been made.
As most of us know, in April, mobile-only Internet users finally surpassed desktop-only Internet users. Today’s consumer is a mobile consumer. Mobile’s power to reach people whenever and wherever they’re shopping has opened so many creative doors for ad experiences – from really brilliant “owned” apps and beacon messaging to in-game advertising and mobile video units. It’s also stirred consumers’ demand for personalized messaging. And to achieve the kind of relevance consumers expect, brands have to “go mobile.” To do that, they have to know HTML.
That said, mobile is not a smoking gun. Mobile has been blocking Flash for 8 years. The sudden urge to switch to HTML came when desktop started to move against Flash – specifically a browser with 28 percent market share. Desktop experiences still matter to consumers.
Q: Respond to this comment from Digiday, published just a little more than a year ago: “Rich-media ads that incorporate video may be more secure in a Flash format, but they’re just not flexible.”
Dan Mouradian: It’s definitely no longer an accurate statement, but I don’t know if it ever really was accurate to begin with.
Flash was only ever just a little easier to build. It always had massive security issues, which is the reason Firefox blocked it. Facebook actually wanted to block it as well. With in-banner video specifically, Flash made it easy to encode to FLV and stream via Flash player. The challenge of building stable HTML video or banner experiences, though, has really only ever been a matter of working with the right people to build something stable and flexible.
Q: The buzz topic of 2015 so far has been “programmatic” — buying and creative. How do you see HTML and programmatic ad solutions coming together in the second half of the year?
Dan Mouradian: When you are dealing with programmatic, you cannot test an ad on every single site it’ll be served to. That’s a challenge for HTML. A lot of people end up coding to the lowest common denominator. This in turn radically limits you in terms of creative boundaries. However, if marketers build with the right technology, they can reach whatever users they want, wherever they want, and with whatever creative assets they have. (Now it just means doing so with HTML ads.)
There’s going to be a lot of pressure on ad servers to provide valid impressions, and brands should really pay attention to their ad metrics to make sure any programmatic solutions are targeting audiences appropriately and providing the right kind of returns. From there, they can start thinking about how the content they’re sharing can be more dynamically distributed. Target A gets Creative A while Target B gets Creative B. The bottom line remains that marketers just have to know their audiences, and what they’re looking for, and where.
And programmatic creative will get more versatile and testing models will get better. It’s happening already because it’s a need brands already have.
If you want to learn more about how you can optimize your ads for HTML, Cofactor is hosting a webinar titled Essentials to a Successful HTML5 Transition alongside our partners Yahoo! and the IAB on the September 1. Join us for free by registering here.
This webinar qualifies for 1.0 CE credits toward IAB Digital Media Sales and IAB Digital Ad Operations Recertification.