The Fall of Flash: What video advertisers need to know

June 6, 2017

by Piotr Piwowarczyk, Technical Operations Manager, Yahoo

The rise of mobile, coupled with growing security concerns around certain plugins, has prompted many in the industry to adopt the mobile-friendly HTML5 format, and to transition away from Flash. The last remaining lifeline for the platform has been video advertising.

However, with most browsers and ad tech vendors ending their support for Flash video ads, and the IAB recommending its elimination by July 2017, the time to switch to the HTML5 compatible JavaScript Video Player-Ad Interface 2 (VPAID 2 JS) is now. By continuing to rely on Flash for video, advertisers risk ads not rendering, or providing a suboptimal user experience. 

At BrightRoll, we have been hard at work ensuring our third-party programmatic partners VPAID 2 JS tags are certified and ready to go. On the BrightRoll Exchange advertisers are already making the shift. This past month, Flash VPAID requests dropped 54%, and for the first time we saw VPAID 2 JS rise to the most requested video format.

For those advertisers who may not be as excited about jumping on the HTML5 bandwagon, we wanted to help simplify the transition. (Hey, we all need a little motivation sometimes…)

The Bright Side to Being Less Flash(y)
The best place to start is with the benefits, and we are happy to say there are many.

Cross-Device Made Easy
Today’s connected consumers have not only fragmented the media landscape, but they have also come to expect more from the media they consume. In order to be effective, video ads need to be interactive, measurable, and render perfectly across devices. The bottom line is that Flash VPAID can’t deliver that. 

Luckily HTML5 and VPAID 2 JS’s ability to leverage JavaScript files makes it adapt automatically to any screen size, ensuring a seamless and fully-interactive cross-device ad experience.  

Omniscreen Video Viewability Measurement
When it comes to viewability measurement, Flash VPAID has always presented significant challenges, the biggest of which has its general lack of mobile measurement. With VPAID 2 JS, advertisers will now be able to leverage highly accurate, omniscreen viewability tracking via the Intersection Observer browser API. Originally introduced in Google Chrome, this API offers true cross-device viewability measurement, a better browser experience, and less vendor discrepancies. 

Streamlined Experience, Better Performance
In addition to the video-related functionality listed above, HTML5 and JavaScript increases overall user player performance by lowering resource consumption, providing better stability, and reducing security vulnerability. Utilizing the VPAID 2 JS standard increases compatibility across multiple video players, allowing agencies to build ads that work across both desktop and mobile, thus streamlining cross-platform workflow.

Easing the Transition: What to do Next
Advertisers/creative agencies:
Agencies have the opportunity to encourage and embrace industry adoption of HTML5 and the VPAID 2 JS standard. To ease the transition, the BrightRoll and Yahoo teams worked with 20 third-party vendors to get their VPAID 2 JS tags certified. This certification program included cross-browser sandboxed testing on multiple video players (Google, Yahoo, JW, Bitmovin, Innovid, Zedo, SnackTV), and live tests on the BrightRoll DSP platform to ensure the tags worked as expected.

Check our approved vendor list to determine if your technology provider is among our already certified vendors. If your vendor is on the list, ask them to provide instructions on how to generate VPAID 2 JS tags for your campaigns.

If your vendor is not on our list, but can provide IAB compliant VPAID 2 JS tags, you can submit a certification request to have BrightRoll work with them on certification. This will ensure your tags will work as expected in a programmatic environment on Yahoo and other supply sources. You can learn about timelines and other details of the certification process here.  

Ad Networks/DSPs: Please educate your programmatic buyers about the upcoming changes in relation to Flash and ask them to migrate to VPAID 2 JS tags.
Publishers/SSPs: Work with publishers to make sure their video players get updated to support the VPAID 2 JS standard as well integrate the appropriate tags.
The impending sunset of Flash support represents the end of an era, but also marks the beginning of a more complete, omni-channel ad standard. At BrightRoll, we are committed to supporting this shift, and to helping our partners realize the full potential of their advertising across screens and publishers. 

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