Google Chrome Support For Flash Ads Ends Sept. 1 - InformationWeek

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Commentary
8/31/2015
12:05 PM
Larry Loeb
Larry Loeb
Commentary
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Google Chrome Support For Flash Ads Ends Sept. 1

Google's Chrome browser will no longer support Flash-based ads starting Sept. 1. This follows several months of problems with Adobe's Flash platform.

9 Reasons Flash Must Die, And Soon
9 Reasons Flash Must Die, And Soon
(Click image for larger view and slideshow.)

Google's Chrome browser will be blocking Adobe Flash content as of Tuesday, Sept. 1. This comes on the heels of Amazon's announcement that it would no longer support Flash-based ads on its websites.

Chrome has a 27% share of the total browser market, so this is a major hit to Adobe Flash.

This change in Chrome first showed up in a June 4 Google Adwords blog posting about a new setting in the browser that affected Flash content. In the post, Google wrote that it was "designed to increase page-load speed and reduce power consumption by pausing certain plugin content, including many Flash ads."

Google also noted in the post, "As soon as September, this setting will be turned on by default so Chrome users can enjoy faster performance and view more content before charging their batteries."

(Image: gmutlu/iStockphoto)

(Image: gmutlu/iStockphoto)

September has arrived.

Conceptually, this is very similar to a feature Apple uses in Safari. Flash is blocked from autoplaying content, and a "power saving" button requires a click to activate Flash.

The feature already exists in Chrome. It can be switched on by opening "advanced settings," under "content settings," then choosing the "detect and run important plugin content" option. Now it will be on by default.

Chrome won't pause all Flash content with this action. Flash video will not be paused, because it is considered "important," but the Flash items that surround that video -- which are usually ads -- will be paused.

Google's true motivation in this move may not be faster performance and better battery life -- not those.

The rise of malvertising attacks, in which malicious code can be injected into a user’s machine simply by viewing an image, that were using Flash as an entry vector undoubtedly played a part in this.

Google's revenues come from ads. Anything that might cause users not to view them or click on them hits it right in its bottom line. Consequently, the company views the Flash problem as a serious one, and it has taken some serious action to mitigate it.

Google has been fairly open about giving advertisers a way around Flash.

For example, AdWords can convert Flash to HTML5 code. As Google put it, "Eligible Flash campaigns, both existing and new, are now automatically converted to HTML5 when uploaded through AdWords, AdWords Editor, and many 3rd party tools."

[Read more about handy HTML5 tips you can use.]

There are free tools to allow pre-upload testing to see if an ad can be automatically converted.

Google will also encourage advertiser creation of HTML5 code with supported tools for this purpose.

Google Web Designer is one of these tools that work directly with the Google Display Network. Google has also provided non-Flash templates for use by advertisers.

Larry Loeb has written for many of the last century's major "dead tree" computer magazines, having been, among other things, a consulting editor for BYTE magazine and senior editor for the launch of WebWeek. He has written a book on the Secure Electronic Transaction Internet ... View Full Bio
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jnskm
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jnskm,
User Rank: Moderator
8/31/2015 | 4:20:43 PM
HTML5
Reminds me of when Steve Jobs wrote "Thoughts On Flash" way back when. Flash is great for animations and videos, but it does seem to be riddled with performance issues (requires a lot of hardware resources) and security issues. The computers I have start to sweat a bit (fans start spinning faster and the entire system starts to run slower) when Flash is running (games, videos, etc.). I wouldn't mind having an alternative that requires less hardware resources and less security risks. I think that would be HTML5.

If/when the transition from Flash to HTML5 is complete, we can once again have parity between iOS devices, Android devices, and PCs when it comes to animations and videos. And our devices will run faster, last longer, and hopefully with less security issues. But I'm sure it will take some time; it's been 5 years since Steve Jobs wrote that article...
mejiac
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mejiac,
User Rank: Ninja
8/31/2015 | 4:26:30 PM
Re: HTML5
To add to your comment,

Back in 2009, the company that I was working for was already working on getting away from Flash as part of there web development. Aside from becoming early HTL5 adopters, the performance issues with flash were enought to motivate the dev team to move away from flash development.

This announcement is of no surprise. At the end of the day, Flash is still a layer on top of the browser, requiring it's own updates, so sooner or later it was goign to run it's course, and even more so given how much web traffic is generated from smartphones and tablets that don't support flash
larryloeb
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larryloeb,
User Rank: Author
8/31/2015 | 4:43:19 PM
Re: HTML5
I say again:

why is Flash even being used?
mejiac
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mejiac,
User Rank: Ninja
8/31/2015 | 4:49:05 PM
Re: HTML5
@larryloed,

If I had to take a stab at answering, I would say it has to do with product delivery and cost. Many developers and designers know flash inside and out. Many sites (like facebook and those focused and game content) favor flash since the delivery and turn around may be quicker.

What does do community think?
larryloeb
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larryloeb,
User Rank: Author
8/31/2015 | 5:27:55 PM
Re: HTML5
Yeah, hivemind: Why does Flash still live?
stevew928
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stevew928,
User Rank: Ninja
9/1/2015 | 11:06:48 AM
Re: HTML5
Yep, lazy and/or ignorant developers.
larryloeb
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larryloeb,
User Rank: Author
9/1/2015 | 11:57:49 AM
Re: HTML5
Well, maybe upper management didn't want them to change.

I mean, the suits thought it worked.
stevew928
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stevew928,
User Rank: Ninja
9/1/2015 | 1:04:16 PM
Re: HTML5
Fair point, but I'm talking in general. And, if that's the case, probably time to find a new place to work with a bit smarter suits.
larryloeb
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larryloeb,
User Rank: Author
9/1/2015 | 1:11:28 PM
Re: HTML5
In general, suits have no idea about code issues.

The good ones realize that.
larryloeb
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larryloeb,
User Rank: Author
8/31/2015 | 4:41:53 PM
Re: HTML5
@jnskm

So, why is Flash still being used?

I don't get it.
jnskm
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jnskm,
User Rank: Moderator
8/31/2015 | 5:08:05 PM
Re: HTML5
@larryloeb:

I think @mejiac has a good point. There are many Flash developers who are very good at what they do and they have been creating animations, games, etc. for many years. It is hard to change course especially if you've been doing something and doing it well for a long time.

Despite the performance and security issues related to Flash, I think Flash is still the easiest way to get animation and video up on the web. That might be another reason why. One more reason might be HTML5 animation/video development tools might not be as robust as Flash? Any other ideas?
larryloeb
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larryloeb,
User Rank: Author
8/31/2015 | 5:29:04 PM
Re: HTML5
@jnskm

So it's just inertia and laziness?

 
mejiac
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mejiac,
User Rank: Ninja
8/31/2015 | 11:21:49 PM
Re: HTML5
@jnskm,

Thank you for your comment. And I agree with your line of thought...because Flash has both been around longer and has wider adoptance you have a wider scope of implementation.

I don't doubt that flash will be a thing of the past, or evolve into something else, but for many areas Flash is very much alive (I can atest to this to the educational online programs that my son is exposed too which are all flash based)

Mobile apps have caused a shift, but many (if not all) when having an app go across multiple platform, the web version is usually flash based.
larryloeb
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larryloeb,
User Rank: Author
9/1/2015 | 7:24:01 AM
Re: HTML5
@mejiac

Yes, Flash is established and out there.

But should it be gone?
mejiac
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mejiac,
User Rank: Ninja
9/1/2015 | 9:47:59 AM
Re: HTML5
@larryloed,

I don't think it'll be gone...Adobe will probably seek a way so that the different platforms can co-exist.
larryloeb
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larryloeb,
User Rank: Author
9/1/2015 | 9:59:00 AM
Re: HTML5
@mejiac

They have been stonewalling and patching so far.

Doesn't seem like they are doing a rewrite or anything.
mejiac
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mejiac,
User Rank: Ninja
9/1/2015 | 10:28:38 AM
Re: HTML5
@larryloeb,

Agreed, reason why I think it's a matter of time when they either seek and pursue a true solution to be able to integrate with today's ecosystem...or be part of the "once great companies" list :)
larryloeb
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larryloeb,
User Rank: Author
9/1/2015 | 10:41:51 AM
Re: HTML5
As so many have fallen by the wayside.

Yeah, they have to do something here. People are just going around them.
stevew928
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stevew928,
User Rank: Ninja
9/1/2015 | 11:08:56 AM
Re: HTML5
And, they apparently didn't pay attention to Jobs over 5 years ago.
larryloeb
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larryloeb,
User Rank: Author
9/1/2015 | 11:59:17 AM
Re: HTML5
Well, he hadn't been declared a Saint at that point.

He was just another upstart fighting the Machine.
stevew928
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stevew928,
User Rank: Ninja
9/1/2015 | 1:06:55 PM
Re: HTML5
Well, he was (as usual) smart enough to recognize where things were going. Flash was already dead at that point, it just hadn't fallen over yet. And, it took the rest of the world much longer to catch up to that realization.
larryloeb
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larryloeb,
User Rank: Author
9/1/2015 | 1:13:24 PM
Re: HTML5
Quite true on his vision.

But, at the time, HTML5 was not a viable alternative for a lot of people.

And, again at the time, it was viewed by many as just another shot at Adobe after the FontWars.
stevew928
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stevew928,
User Rank: Ninja
9/1/2015 | 1:32:23 PM
Re: HTML5
True, it wasn't a viable alternative for *some* applications, but was for 95% of what Flash was being used for out on the Web. And, while I applaud Jobs for taking the stand he did (and starting the avalanche), it didn't exactly take a ton of vision on that one.

I was quite against Flash before that, as the resources it required were outrageous, it was quite buggy and a huge security hole, AND the biggest reason, it was quickly becoming a non-standard, in that more and more devices couldn't (or shouldn't) use it.

I think the biggest surprise to me, were the companies that jumped on-board to support it, in an almost suicidal move. I'd have to think it was simply a gut attempt to just go against Jobs, rather than anyone actually taking the time to think it through.
larryloeb
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larryloeb,
User Rank: Author
9/1/2015 | 1:41:30 PM
Re: HTML5
> I'd have to think it was simply a gut attempt to just go against Jobs

Adobe had a LOT of influence five years ago.

And money to spend.
stevew928
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stevew928,
User Rank: Ninja
9/1/2015 | 2:12:28 PM
Re: HTML5
Hmm, maybe I haven't been following Adobe close enough, but wouldn't that still be the case? And, if memory serves, it wasn't Adobe pushing Flash so much as the user/developer-base, right?
larryloeb
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larryloeb,
User Rank: Author
9/1/2015 | 2:22:53 PM
Re: HTML5
Well, i mean that the train seemed to stop at their station more during then.

They had some big creative tools (and still do) where there was no good alternatives.

They user base didnt have another good alternative then, as I said. The security problems has not really shown up at that point.

But they do have alternatives now.
stevew928
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stevew928,
User Rank: Ninja
9/1/2015 | 3:10:03 PM
Re: HTML5
Yes, again, alternatives depends on what was needed to be acomplished.

But, security was already a big issue back then... (from Jobs' open letter):

"Symantec recently highlighted Flash for having one of the worst security records in 2009. We also know first hand that Flash is the number one reason Macs crash. We have been working with Adobe to fix these problems, but they have persisted for several years now. We don't want to reduce the reliability and security of our iPhones, iPods and iPads by adding Flash."
larryloeb
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larryloeb,
User Rank: Author
9/1/2015 | 4:04:32 PM
Re: HTML5
Yes, Jobs concentrated on what affected Macs.

But I dont remember Flash being used so much as a malware entry vector.
stevew928
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stevew928,
User Rank: Ninja
9/1/2015 | 3:17:44 PM
Re: HTML5
Back in the day, I was a Novell CNE. If I hadn't moved on, I'd have been out of work!

And, people using Flash should too. Every so often, I even still run across a website with a Flash front-end. All that says to the world, is that whoever designed that site is completely clueless.

If the tool doesn't get the job done and has massive shortcoming, it doesn't matter how familiar you are with it.
stevew928
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stevew928,
User Rank: Ninja
9/1/2015 | 3:19:56 PM
Re: HTML5
BTW, that was meant to be a reply to @jnskm
larryloeb
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larryloeb,
User Rank: Author
9/1/2015 | 4:05:39 PM
Re: HTML5
What a great example about Novell, though.
danielcawrey
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danielcawrey,
User Rank: Ninja
9/3/2015 | 1:28:04 AM
Re: HTML5
Flash has been problematic for some time. When Chrome crashes on my laptop, it's always because of Flash. The criticisms that have been out there for some time has been that Adobe hasn't really iterated Flash to deal with the modern web. 

Add in the fact that Flash is indeed used for nefarious reasons and there is a lot of motivation for Google to move on from it. 
larryloeb
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larryloeb,
User Rank: Author
9/3/2015 | 7:21:18 AM
Re: HTML5
I can't disagree with anything you say there.
Li Tan
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Li Tan,
User Rank: Ninja
9/7/2015 | 11:06:57 AM
Re: HTML5
In addition to problems, Flash is a heavy-weight animation platform - everytime it asked me to upgrade, I clicked OK then it took long time. I need to restart my browser as well. HTML5 is in place and I don't think it's necessary to keep Flash in production.
Ashu001
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Ashu001,
User Rank: Ninja
9/7/2015 | 11:32:17 AM
Re: HTML5
Li,

Only those companies who are animation-heavy /Gaming Applications need Flash today.

Everyone else can and should upgrade their websites towards HTML5.

No two words about it today.

 
Ashu001
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Ashu001,
User Rank: Ninja
9/7/2015 | 11:30:33 AM
Re: HTML5
Daniel,

Flash has been the favorite entry-vector for Malware writers for a while now.

I am not really surprised about this annoucement from Google.Both Adobe Flash and Adobe Reader are entering the dark ages of Obsoletion today(unless they up their game decisively to compete with Alternative platforms).

Was reading something else very interesting(in the Financial times) about Youtube today.

Apparently,they are moving towards embedding Code from Advertiser Networks so as to better measure the efficacy of the ads they publish before  videos on Youtube.At the sametime as launching a paid (and ad-free) version of Youtube this move signals a massive change in how Google is looking at monetizing the huge installed base of Videos on Youtube today.

Big,Big Period of Annoucements from Google!

 
Ashu001
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Ashu001,
User Rank: Ninja
9/7/2015 | 11:25:14 AM
Re: HTML5
Steve,

Great explaination.

The Great thing about Technology is that people don't complain and ask for "Protection" when a better competitor comes along.

Its just that everyone moves onto the New System(some earlier and some later).

Just like many other Obsolete pieces of Software,Flash is also inching towards the end.

Slowly at first,Rapidly once major vendors cease support entirely for Flash.

 
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