How IAB guideline changes really marked the end of Adobe Flash

Quickly — think of an industry that is still rooted in Adobe’s Flash technology?

Yes, a technology that has been on a downslide since the advent of smartphones; a technology that is nearing further disability from major browsers for its security vulnerabilities; and a technology that now exists in pseudonym (see “Adobe Animate”) because its creator so desperately wants to move on.There are a few answers that come to mind, like computer gaming and video streaming, both of which are realizing the need to wriggle out of Flash’s development grips and find their way toward a more-reliable future. After all, Chrome and Firefox unexpectedly blocked Flash technology a little less than a year ago today. The block, though temporary, sent a grim message across the web to Flash developers: move on or risk having nothing.







The industry that Dirxion is concerned with, of course, is digital publishing. This industry is stubborn and resilient in its use of Flash, even though Adobe wants more to be recognized for its own transition to HTML5. Still today, nearly 10 years since the release of Apple’s first iPhone, most digital publishing kits are brought to you by Flash.

Actually, let me paraphrase the question — what industries sell online advertising for their websites?

It’s not a trick question. Too many to even count.

Each of these industries has been touched by Adobe Flash. Let that passive voice sink in for a moment. Anyone who has posted online advertising in the past five years has likely been relying heavily on Flash. It is that pervasive.

But now, nearly a year has passed since the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) laid out an overhaul to its display creative guidelines that make HTML5 the new standard in interactive marketing. The efforts further encourage agencies to move away from Adobe’s Flash, which for years has been the unofficial standard. It was a hugely-important-but-unsurprising move by IAB. It really marked the end of Adobe Flash, and here’s why.

Google is no longer accepting Flash-based ads on Jan. 2, 2017. Go ahead and put that on your calendar as the execution date for Flash. In the U.S., Chrome is leading the web browser marketshare and trending further upward. It would come as no surprise if the other major browsers followed suit. There is little doubt that IAB’s guidelines precipitated such a plan.

Google said the move will “enhance the browsing experience for more people on more devices.” It will also force a bevy of online advertisers to shape up before next year. Changes will come even sooner, with June 30, 2016, being a prominent date on which ads built in Flash can no longer be uploaded into AdWords and DoubleClick Digital Marketing. If things aren’t clear enough, Google deliberately points out that “it’s important to update your display ads to HTML5 before these dates.”

Some loyalty to Flash is easy to understand: since its invention, Flash has been the lifeblood to industries like digital publishing. Dirxion, along with everybody else providing such services, was at one point deeply entrenched in Flash.

But IAB, Google and a whole wide world of HTML5 developers wants to show us that Adobe Flash is the past, HTML5 is the future and too many of us are stuck in a messy in-between. Fortunately, it doesn’t seem like there is an option, and it is mobile-or-bust in a smartphone-entranced society. HTML5 will eventually prevail.

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