Google has announced that it is dropping support for Adobe Flash-based online ads.
From June 30, advertisers will no longer be able to uploads ads built in Flash to Google’s Adwords and DoubleClick services. Instead they are being advised to use HTML5 instead.
And from January 2 2017, any remaining Flash ads simply won’t run on the on the Google Display Network or through DoubleClick.
This is just the latest step away from the hugely unpopular Flash.
Last year, Facebook security chief Alex Stamos called for the death of Flash, and Google announced that its Chrome browser was now blocking Flash ads by default, in order to “improve performance for users.”
Furthermore, Google has been telling advertisers for some time to switch their Flash ads to HTML5, and explaining that “most Flash ads” uploaded to Google AdWords were already being automatically converted.
Adobe itself recently made clear that it was moving away from the platform to an HTML5-based future.
So it’s not as though advertisers haven’t seen the writing on the wall for a while.
It increasingly seems that the only people who truly love Adobe Flash are the criminals themselves.
Of course, if you’re one of those people who are enjoying the benefits of running an ad blocker when browsing the web, the change in ad format is essentially irrelevant to you - you shouldn’t be seeing Google’s ads whether they’re running in HTML5 or Adobe Flash.
What are the benefits of running an ad blocker? You won’t have your computer infected by malvertising, adverts won’t be tracking your movements around the web, and you should find the web a speedier and less cluttered experience.
For that reason, usage of ad blocking software has increased significantly - a trend which has been further fuelled by Apple making it easy for iPhone and iPad users to enable ad-blocking in their mobile browsers. (Notably, and perhaps predictably, Google appears to be somewhat less keen on Android users blocking ads)
What are the disadvantages of running an ad blocker? Websites which rely upon online ads for revenue will feel that you are getting the benefit of their content without giving them anything in return. Some sites might block you from accessing their content unless you whitelist their list in your ad blocker, or sign-up for a subscription.
I can relate to the point of view of both the general public and the folks trying to run an online business.
Running my own site has made me sympathetic to the problem faced by many websites on how to get paid for their work, but the simple truth, I believe, is that the conventional web ad model is unpopular with users because of how it has been exploited and abused by commercial enterprises and cybercriminals.
Whether spreading malware or not, most web advertising leaves the reader with a bad online experience.
Adverts can be irritating. They can get in the way of the content you want to read, and have distracting animations (whether in HTML5 or Flash!).
That seems to me to be an approach that is better for readers, better for companies wishing to get their services in front of my site’s audience, and - hey - I prefer it too.