Yahoo! Adopts New Flash in a Flash

Yahoo (Quote, Chart) is the first major publisher to support Macromedia’s Flash Player 7 for distribution of rich, interactive ads. The move shows the portal to be an early adopter; the software was released less than two months ago.

Yahoo also increased its Flash file size limits to provide advertisers with greater flexibility for building rich ads. Ad size is still limited to 30K, but file size for the interactive component of Flash ads has doubled from 50K to 100K, said a Yahoo spokesperson.

Macromedia says its Flash Player is installed on over 97 percent of connected desktops and on a growing number of mobile devices. How long it will take those users to upgrade to 7.0 is in question. Once they do, the software will auto-upgrade to future versions.

The 7.0 Player performs up to eight times faster and delivers higher-quality video than its predecessors. New features allow creation of more back-end functionality to support and handle more data.

Yahoo’s announcement came in the wake of other major publishers’ shows of support for rich and streaming media. AOL can (finally) accept rich media advertising; MSN this week announced a new, free video portal.

Rob Graham, director of Learningcraft and an expert on rich media, thinks Yahoo’s early commitment to the platform is, “Great. But it’s going to take a while for the end user to catch up. There will be early adopters, but there won’t be that much of a demand. You do have to start somewhere. It’s a simple enough decision for Yahoo to sit down and say they’ll support it.”

A Macromedia spokesperson said the company has no estimates for consumer adoption of the new software.

Nate Elliott, an advertising analyst at Jupiter Research (owned by the parent company of this Web site), is less optimistic. “I’m a big fan of rich media advertising, but Flash 7 ads will need a backup ad in Flash 6. The ads will probably be unable to run on any other site. The majority of publishers won’t bother with this for at least a year, maybe two. No one’s going to make an ad for that small a number of people; it’s a waste of time and money. Advertisers won’t buy into it.”

Graham’s hopeful that Flash 7.0’s new capabilities will create rich ads that are truly rich. “A lot of ads are Flash-bashed,” he observes, “but they’re only a minor step above GIFs. The back end is a very important aspect of this entire prospect.”

Yahoo wouldn’t comment on any advertisers who may already have committed to ads in the new format.

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