The DEATH OF FLASH by this point feels like an inevitability, but it still needs some nudges toward its timely end. Google has provided one today, by declaring its extensive AdWords and DoubleClick networks Flash-free zones.
In a Google+ post this morning, first reported by VentureBeat, the AdWords team announced the gradual phasing out of Flash from all display advertisements that it serves. Advertisers will no longer be able to upload Flash ads as of June 30, and starting January 2 of next year, they’ll no longer run at all. Google’s encouraging advertisers to create their ads in HTML5 instead.
It’s just the latest in a long succession of moves Google has made against Flash, including most recently its decision to automatically pause any Flash-based ads in Chrome, its operating system. This latest decree should have an even broader impact, though, as it effects change not just in a single browser but across the entire Web. The Google Ad network reaches 95.5 percent of desktop Internet users, according to the latest numbers from industry-tracker Comscore. That’s a lot of eyeballs who won’t be exposed to Flash as of early next year.
That doesn’t mean they won’t be exposed to ads at all, of course. But the ads that they do see will avoid the security and performance pitfalls inherent in any Flash product. While the transition from Flash to HTML5 could involve a learning curve for advertisers, it will also make their lives in some ways easier, since HTML5 products work across mobile and desktop instead of requiring unique solutions for both.
Google says that video ads built in Flash won’t be affected “at this time,” implying that they will be at some point. No surprise there, either, as Amazon, Facebook, and Google itself now rely on HTML5 video players for their own products.
A year may feel like a long time to wait for Flash to disappear from a huge chunk of the Web. Given how long we’ve put up with it, though, it’s enough just to know that there’s an end in sight.