The imminent death of Flash and implications for ad creative

Recent developments and industry trends have led to Flash being gradually phased out, majorly impacting the creation and delivery of digital advertising creative which has traditionally been built using Adobe’s Flash software. In the first of a two-part blog series, this quick guide outlines the impact and challenges caused by this move in addition to providing helpful tips for successful delivery and optimisation of digital ad creative.

Flash Creative: Context and Challenges

Chrome and the decline of Flash

Since the early 2000s, Flash has been widely installed on computers across the globe and as online advertising grew, rich media creative was almost exclusively designed on the platform. Fast-forward to 2015 and the landscape has become significantly more complex with an ever-growing number of devices and web browsers being used to access the web. With a steady decline of platforms supporting Flash, the proverbial nail in the coffin has recently arrived in the form of Google Chrome (the leading web browser with an estimated 40% UK market share) announcing that it will stop supporting Flash. As a result, Flash creative will no longer work in Chrome browsers from September 2015.

While this change will inevitably force advertisers to stop building digital creative in Flash as they’ve traditionally done, this is a positive move for the industry as Flash creative currently poses a number of issues, including:

  • 25% of rich media ads are currently served as backup image, resulting in 25% of budget being wasted (Source: DoubleClick)
  • 50% of inventory available via ad exchanges does not currently support Flash
  • Mobile operating systems (iPhones, iPads, Android handsets, etc.) do not support Flash

Media time spent on mobile and tablet

According to Ofcom, the smartphone is the most popular access point to the internet and we know that overall time spent on mobile and tablet devices has long trumped computers and will steadily continue to grow. Advertisers using Flash creative are missing an opportunity in terms of reach and engagement.


Given creative agencies’ legacy of building digital creative in Flash by default, additional production of assets across mobile and tablet has typically presented significantly large incremental costs, partly contributing to under-investment in the channel relative to media consumption and time spent.

Estimated Flash Ad Viewability


Next time, we discuss HTML5 as the simple and effective solution to these challenges.


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