Recently Google has announced that they will be converting any display network ad from Flash into HTML5. From June 30th, 2016 AdWords and DoubleClick will no longer accept ads built in Flash and they will completely stop running from the beginning of 2017. However, Google seems to be helpful in the transition and is assisting advertisers with Swiffy – a Flash to HTML5 converter.

Why is this change happening?

This news hasn’t caught anyone by surprise as the long and painful death of Adobe’s Flash continues. Flash longevity has been questioned for quite some time, starting with Mozilla’s move to block Flash by default in Firefox and continuing with Adobe’s security announcement regarding two critical vulnerabilities. Moreover, Adobe seems to haste Flash’s death by announcing at the end of 2015 the re-branding of Flash Professional to Animate CC, to reflect a greater focus on HTML5.

The switch from Flash to HTML5 is a trend the company has been pushing for a long time now. In January 2010, for example, Google-owned YouTube announced a test version of an HTML5 video player. Five years later YouTube finally ditched Flash for HTML5 by default. Hence, as Google explained it: “to enhance the browsing experience for more people on more devices, the Google Display Network and DoubleClick Digital Marketing are now going 100% HTML5.” Until now, when Flash wasn’t supported, Google displayed a static image backup of an ad. With HTML5 the ads will display as fully interactive on all devices.

What issues should you be aware of?

Understanding the role HTML5 can have on marketing requires a broader understanding of how your content gets developed, deployed, and maintained online. HTML5 isn’t a singular thing – it works with many technologies like CSS, JavaScript, and geolocation to really bring things to life.

For example, complex animations or built in custom fonts require a larger file in HTML5 than in Flash, which means publisher specs will need to change as well. Flash is built as a single executable file, which meant that once it was successfully tested on desktop it could safely be served across other devices. However, HTML5 is a set of multiple files and because different browsers render HTML5 features differently more rigorous testing will need to be performed in terms of functionality on various devices. Poorly coded HTML5 ads can devastate an entire website.

What does that mean for you?

As many B2B publishers and lots of B2B titles use Google’s DoubleClick for Advertisers (DFA), this change will impact ads on publishers’ sites as well as Google sites. It will apply to existing and new Flash campaigns, so no need to make any changes if you’re currently running Flash creative. However, not all Flash ads will be easily converted but you can check the eligibility with Swiffy. For example Flash ads that cannot be converted with Swiffy and are viewed in Chrome will be paused and greyed out, with a play button in the centre.  Hence conversion is only a step towards going 100% HTML5 so you will need to start building your ads in HTML5 soon enough.

In conclusion, check your Flash creatives with Swiffy, and if they are convertible they will auto-convert to HTML5 on display until June. After June Google won’t accept any more Flash uploads and in January 2017 they will stop running altogether. So between now and then get your resources and planning together and start building your new ad campaigns directly in HTML5!