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

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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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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?
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?
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
100%
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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?
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.
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
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...
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