As is widely known and discussed throughout the industry, Flash is on its way out and publishers are increasingly moving towards implementing non-Flash solutions.  However, there is still a lot of confusion about the timeline for this migration, what it means for the availability of inventory, and underlying functionality of that inventory. Diminishing support for Flash VPAID and the relatively limited support for HTML5 VPAID present concerns for advertisers looking to measure viewability across the largest footprint of their media plans.

 In terms of a migration to HTML, there is no question that the industry will move away from Flash.  Adobe itself has released a statement encouraging developers to move away from Flash and the IAB and other important entities in the digital advertising ecosystem have issued, or are in the process of issuing, similar statements.

That said, despite these warnings, the shift of video inventory from Flash-based standards to non-Flash-based standards has not yet happened to the same degree that it has on the rich media side.  There are a number of reasons for this—just to name a few:

  • If it ain't broke, don't fix it.  Unlike rich media ads that deliver the whole ad, which "plays" itself, video ads are delivered into publisher players that are responsible for playing them.   Publishers have to update their players to support HTML rather than Flash before ad vendors can actually start to deliver HTML ads.  This means extra effort and costs for the publisher—not only the cost of development, but also possible additional costs from replacing a technology (Flash) that is known to always work the same across supported platforms with a technology (HTML) that can have specific issues depending on different browsers, devices, OS's etc. 
  • Trouble getting the ball rolling. Advertisers and agencies are demanding viewability and verification tracking, which require code on the device to execute correctly. So, the verification vendors also needed to adopt their solutions to HTML and various parties (publishers, ad servers, etc.) had to implement them.   Additionally, the ecosystem has other solutions in place for audience measurement, brand surveys, and user privacy, and all of these also need to be updated to HTML.  
  • Trying to find a better way of doing things (for pubs).  Large publishers, who typically help to drive the adoption of new standards, have been taking a different route to support OTT and mobile across many screens rather than the straight migration from Flash VPAID to HTML VPAID.  Server-side ad insertion solutions simplify the proposition of delivering ads to many devices without latency and other issues, although perhaps at the cost of compatibility with viewability and interactivity solutions.   The fact that these pubs aren't necessarily moving slows the adoption of HTML VPAID and casts some doubts on its future, at least for premium inventory.
  • Nothing forcing a change (yet). There has been no reason for pubs to make the switch quite yet—while Chrome and Safari are slowly nudging Flash out of the market, the hammer hasn't really dropped yet. In December, Chrome will stop supporting Flash, though some of the broadcast publishers will get a free pass even into 2017.

So, what do agencies and advertisers do?  How is Innovid handling this issue?

  • Agencies and advertisers can rely on Innovid to help them navigate this transitional period.
  • Innovid has had support for HTML VPAID for well over a year and is delivering these tags to any publishers that require them.
  • Innovid has solutions in place to deliver additional functionality like viewability and interactivity in cases where server-side ad insertion is in use and is working on additional solutions to support both VPAID and non-VPAID mechanisms for providing the metrics and capabilities that agencies and advertisers want for video.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact us.  We are happy to answer any questions, or even to support you with face-to-face agency or advertiser-side training on the evolving TV/video ecosystem