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Flash demise challenges Asian marketers

News, 28 October 2015

SINGAPORE: As more and more of the ad tech industry shelves Flash, the Adobe platform that plays multimedia content in ads, marketers across Asia are wrestling with how best to address the changes involved.

Many traditional desktop web-based agencies are "running like chickens without heads" according to Alvin Koay, chief executive of Singapore-based marketing solutions provider MobileAds.com.

He told Campaign Asia-Pacific that these agencies had been "caught off guard" and were flocking to free Flash-to-HTML5 converters, but added that these tools could not handle the more complex rich media ads with embedded "mini-applications" that are becoming more common.

Examples of the latter include video, social media walls, tap-to-call and ecommerce functions, and to do these, he explained, "agencies need to outsource to expensive production agencies or use specialised ad creators".

Price is a sticking point for all but the biggest brands. Koay reported that more large international brands were going down the rich media route, especially in Japan and Indonesia.

But local brands and smaller agencies have been restricted to creating simple animated HTML5 banners using conversion programmes "to solve an immediate Flash pain point", or to sticking with static banners.

"We are not even near the tipping point yet as advertisers are still trying to solve niggling issues such as tracking, viewability, standard-compliance and ad fraud in the mobile advertising space," said Koay.

"Even large agencies are still generally clueless about mobile advertising and they are still outsourcing rich-media creatives to their traffic source partners," he added.

MobileAd.com's solution has been to create a white label SaaS-in-a-box Ad Suite to enable small- and medium-sized agencies to build rich media ads cost effectively.

The shift away from Flash gained momentum earlier this year when Google announced it would be freezing Flash ads on its Chrome browser form the start of September in order to encourage developers to use HTML5 to improve performance and reduce battery consumption.

Mozilla's Firefox browser blocked Flash over security concerns while Apple does not support the software for its iPhone; Amazon has also said it will no longer accept Adobe Flash for rendering display ads on its sites.

Data sourced from Campaign Asia-Pacific; additional content by Warc staff