Home Opinions Flash-free wannabe – how to move to a flash-free environment successfully

Flash-free wannabe – how to move to a flash-free environment successfully

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It’s official, Flash is no more and will soon be completely unsupported. While web browsers have been moving towards retiring their support for Flash over the past years, many media companies have been holding out in a ‘wait-and-see’ mode to see if Flash is really going away.

So, now that it is, how do you prepare? How do you balance a quick transition with customer experience? There are a variety of considerations you’ll need to make across your operating business before you take the leap. There will be additional impacts on your existing video ad inventory on top of logistical and technological issues.

As HTML5 is an open ecosystem, there is less handholding available compared to proprietary technology such as Flash, as no one company is incentivised to make sure the technology works for you. This doesn’t necessarily mean there’s no support at all however; Apple and Google for example have a lot of built-in support to help media companies ease the learning curve. Best-practices can be expected to develop over time, much like other open technologies and concepts which have been adopted on the web.

Publishers have much to gain by moving to HTML5 video, but there are a few steps to take to make the transition beneficial for all involved.

Consider visitor experience implications

On a first view, a key advantage of HTML5 is that it’s a lightweight alternative to Flash, meaning your end use experience should be much improved. While this is a logical conclusion, it’s not always the case. Flash operated in a world beyond the browser, HTML5 on the other hand uses JavaScript functions to connect, which can lead to a heavy website given all the other calls that a webpage will be trying to make at the same time, to services like Google Analytics, jQuery and Facebook.

Another consideration is security. HTML5 enforces SSL security rules, which Flash did not. Of course, for end users this presented a security risk but eased the expectations on publishers. Before moving to HTML5 you should evaluate your website’s security to ensure SSL is applied end-to-end.

Get ad partners on board

For companies that monetise with adverts, you need to get your advertising partners on board as soon as possible to make this a smooth transition. Not only could you run into technical issues with compatibility, but you risk eroding your advertising revenues leading to wider business problems. Areas this might run into include performance playback issues to ad fill rates. There should be enough incentive for both sides of this issue for the industry to work together to tackle potential pitfalls.

A second issue is that the format of ad creative within the playback experience. Converting the full ad experience, for example interactive elements of ads or tracking ability, may not translate through straight away into HTML5 so you’ll need to invest time and resources into appropriate formats. The cost implications of this may mean that some ads that can’t prove their value need to be cut.

Bye-bye security risks, hello innovation

With the death of Flash on the horizon, many media companies now risk real impact to their business operations as browsers finally roll out changes to deprecate Flash support. Yet even for media brands well-prepared for migrating to an HTML5-first video playback experience, enabling the move may still involve some important decisions and considerations.

If done well, the migration to HTML5 video can have a minimal impact on both revenues and operations. Once successfully migrated to HTML5 video technologies, companies can directly benefit from being forward-compatible with the innovations of the HTML5 video ecosystem, while leaving behind the security risks of the Flash ecosystem.


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