Flash Mobile Ads Leads to 5.35bn Wasted Rich Media Ad Impressions

During the first quarter of 2015, 5.35 billion rich media impressions were wasted on mobile devices because they defaulted to Flash instead of HTML5, according to open ad management firm Sizmek.

The company’s 2015 Mobile Index Report predicts that the total U.S. mobile advertising spend is going to reach $28.7 billion this year, up 50 percent from 2014. As mobile inventory increases, ad formats are changing as well, particularly in the realm of rich media. The report shows that Flash-based ads were 98.6 percent likely to default, which means they revert to a single static image, because mobile support for Flash inventory is nearly extinct today.

In comparison, HTML5 creative, which is supported across both iOS and Android devices, defaulted only 8.3 percent of the time. As a result, HTML5 outperformed Flash ads by 400 percent, in terms of interaction rate.


                                                             Image Credit: Sizmek

Although HTML5 is more efficient than Flash, the report reveals that only 45 percent of rich media ads delivered to mobile devices were in this format.

“Creative designers and ad traffickers, who are responsible for determining ad formats, still stick to Flash that they have been using for a long time. Although HTML5 has been around for a while, it is really just beginning to see a robust development in terms of interesting mobile ad formats,” says Andy Kahl, director of research for Sizmek.

The Flash mobile default problem isn’t limited to just a few advertisers. The report shows that among campaigns that served at least 1 million impressions in the first quarter of 2015, the average default rate was 35.2 percent. More than one-third of the advertisers surveyed defaulted much more than the average rate, with 12 percent never successfully serving a rich media ad to a mobile device. The rate of rich media failure was much lower on desktop inventory, where 60 percent of advertisers defaulted at a rate of less than 3 percent.

To solve this problem, Kahl suggests that marketers should switch from Flash to HTML5 at the very beginning of their ad designing process.

“If you are not going to serve rich media ads, target away from mobile devices so that you are not wasting that inventory. Most ad networks and programmatic platforms allow you to have that capability,” Kahl says. “But obviously that’s not a sustainable strategy, because mobile is becoming an indispensable part of more and more campaigns. In the long run, you have to adopt HTML5 and develop rich media ads that are compatible with mobile environments.”

*Homepage image via Shutterstock.

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