Advertisers Keep Running Flash Ads On Mobile Even Though It’s Almost Never Supported
Study finds huge usage of Flash continues despite the fact that the ads usually default to static banners on mobile device.
Advertisers continue to run Flash-based ads despite the fact that Flash support is essentially extinct on mobile phones. The study, published by Sizmek Thursday, found that 5.35 billion Flash rich media ad impressions served through the ad management platform defaulted to single static images. That’s 98.6 percent of Flash rich media ads defaulting on mobile devices, compared to just 8.3 percent of HTML5-based rich media ads.
Before assuming advertisers have moved past Flash, notice in the chart above that there were more Flash mobile ad impressions served in Q1 2015 than HTML5 ad impressions. The study found that among campaigns that served at least one million impressions in the quarter, the average default rate was 35.2 percent, and 12 percent of advertisers never successfully served a rich media ad on a mobile device.
On desktop the default rate was less than 3 percent for 60 percent of advertisers.
Consequences Of Default Flash Ads On Mobile
Because of the high default rates, Flash ads perform only marginally better than actual standard banners. Click-through rates (CTR) and engagement rates are much lower than HTML5 ads. CTR for Flash ads average just .28 percent compared to HTML5 banners which top .50 percent. Not surprising, interaction rates of 1.53 percent for HTML5 ads on mobile more than triple the rate of Flash ads on mobile.
Sizmek says that mobile’s share (smartphone and tablet) of display impressions nearly doubled year-over-year to top 30 percent in Q1 2015. While click-through rates on mobile remain higher than desktop, desktop display ads continue to have significantly higher interaction rates (expanding ads, viewing video or slideshow content, etc.).
The report includes data from the Sizmek MDX ad serving platform, which the company says is used by 22,000 publishers, 3,400 agencies and 17,000 brands globally.
To address this problem, Google began automatically converting Flash creative to HTML5 in February 2015 for advertisers running ad on its display network. Asked about this, Andy Kahl, director of research at Sizmek, responded, “Our experience is that conversion tools, while widely available in a pinch, don’t pass quality standards. The automatic conversion tools used in the course of ad serving apply only to standard banners – where a default static image serves nearly the same purpose. Our recommendation is that HTML5 be adopted from the beginning of the creative design process, particularly for rich media campaigns.”