Google Chrome blocks Flash ads from 1 September 2015

Flash ads are now being blocked on Google Chrome. Examining how this change will affect your ad campaigns, and what you can do to adapt, is TIW ad ops manager Berta Franco.

After the so-called ‘Mobilegeddon’ we thought Google had had its fill of updates for 2015, but we’re afraid not. From 1 September 2015, Google will introduce an update to its Chrome browser that will effectively ‘pause’ all Adobe Flash ads on Google Chrome.

What is the objective of blocking Flash?

  • To make the page load faster
  • To improve the battery life of our laptops
  • To make browsing the web a little easier on the eye
  • And ultimately, to improve the user’s experience; as Google has been getting a bit of a bad reputation for being a battery-hog, compared to its competitor browsers.

When the update was announced back on 4 June, Google said in a update:

“When you’re on a webpage that runs Flash, we’ll intelligently pause content that aren’t central to the webpage. This update significantly reduces power consumption, allowing you to surf the web longer before having to hunt for a power outlet”

The functionality is enabled by default in the Chrome Beta desktop app. Chrome Beta desktop it will be “rolling out soon to everyone else on Chrome desktop” – but as yet the date hasn’t been announced.

While the aim is to improve the user’s experience, from a publisher’s perspective this means the loss of a popular creative advertising method and a cost for re-creating campaigns in new formats.

For costs, this is what it will take publishers and agencies in terms of time:

  • Going through our campaigns in DFP and spotting what campaigns are currently running Flash creatives (this can be done just by applying a filter)
  • Getting in touch with clients to ask for the new artwork
  • Updating the creatives in DFP once we have received the new formats
  • Updating the specs sheet that is sent to advertisers.

Depending on how big your team or agency is, this is not necessarily a big deal though. The main thing that has caused quite a stir among publishers, advertisers and traffickers is the uncertainty, because there is not much information available about the update.

There is such an information shortfall that many advertisers are not even aware yet, as there has not been a direct announcement from Google to the users of DFP. The normal process would have been for Google to send an email to DFP users so that they can let their advertisers know, instead we’ve heard about it through word of mouth so many users won’t actually even be in the know.

If you are currently running online advertising campaigns then make sure you ask your advertisers to do one of the following:

  • Resupply with different ad formats (GIF, PNG, JavaScript, etc.)
  • Migrate to HTML5 creatives.

Who will be affected? The worst hit are the advertisers who have to build the new creatives, as creative development and production times will be longer with HTML5 – so if they need to convert from Flash they should be working on it right now before September steps on our toes.

(We’ve also heard some uncertainty about HTML5 but this is just nothing more than the 5th iteration of HTML language and has already been used by many websites and works smoothly on both desktop and mobile.)

To get HTML5 creatives working advertisers will need to do the following:

  • Provide HTML5 tags
  • Provide any supporting images along with the HTML5 code
  • All specs as to size and weight will remain the same as usual
  • HTML5 will be trafficked as third-party or custom creative in DFP depending on what code and supporting images they provide.

What will be the effect, come 1 September?

If by the D-day all Flash files in the DFP ad server haven’t been updated then you’’ll find that they don’t run automatically as they used to, which many experts agree may affect click-through rates (undoubtedly downwards).

However, if a user still wants to see the advert playing, they can enable it manually by heading to Chrome’s content settings and selecting “Detect and run important plugin content”:

How to enable Flash ads in Google Chrome

But to be honest, it’s unlikely that users will be inclined, or know how to resume playback of these Flash ads, so we suggest that you update all your Flash creatives as soon as possible!

Google has promised more updates to come soon, so stay tuned, we’ll keep you posted.

To find out more about how to host your adverts in a secure and Google-compliant way, please contact our Ad Ops Team.

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Written by

Berta manages our Ad Operations department and is responsible for design, set-up and optimisation of advertising campaigns, mainly using Google ad server DFP. In her free time Berta loves to go swimming and partaking in cooking competitions (she worked as a chef in the past at a Michelin starred restaurant) – As such the rest of the team are trying to upstage her in our company 'Bake Off' competition in aid of Demelza House Children's Hospice.

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