Ad Tech & Ad Ops

Google is phasing out Flash Ads: What You Need to Know About It

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As you may have heard, Google is pulling the plug on Flash ads next year.

Starting July 2016, you’ll no longer be able to upload display ads built in Flash. And, starting in January 2017, AdWords will stop running display ads in the Flash format.

The only way to continue uploading and displaying ads is through HTML 5, as Google has been committed to enriching the user experience for people on various devices. Do not fret though; Google offers help to advertisers who have already uploaded their display ad content in Flash.

Back in 2015, we’ve seen a great decline in Flash with mobile and web video down to 6%, whereas it was previously 21% in 2014. Google had started auto-converting some Flash ads to HTML5 on mobile devices in February of last year. Flash-based ads were set on pause as default in September, and just this last month, HTML 5 is the default player on YouTube.

Now that Google has announced this big game changer for the ad industry, what can advertisers do in order to keep up with the change?

What You Can Do

Before you proceed on creating new ads, keep in mind that ad servers MUST be certified to serve HTML 5 ads on AdWords.

Check if yours is an AdWords Certified External Vendor.

If You Have Flash Ads Uploaded to Your AdWords Account

Google recommends that you create new image ads instead, or create new HTML 5 ads through their free tools:

Google Web Designer 1

— Google Web Designer. Download this free tool from Google to create your HTML 5 ads. With this tool, you can focus more on designing your ads and worry less about the code. If you need to change some lines within the code, it is completely accessible without any restrictions.

— AdWords Ad Gallery. You can always create HTML 5 ads from existing templates, or get custom ideas based on your website’s content and style.

On the other hand, you can always upload your own HTML 5 ad. To check if your uploaded ad meets the requirements set by Google, you can visit their AdWords HTML5 Validator and guidelines.

Google has also set up a guide for the best practices in creating effective mobile ads. The gist? Implement important mobile-friendly extensions and ad formats, advertise what makes sense, and invest in micro-moments that matter most for you and the users.

If You Created Flash Ads via the AdWords Gallery

  1. Check if you created a Flash ad using any of the “General Purpose”templates, except for the Automatic Layout – Classic design.
  2. If you did, it’s recommended that you upload a new image or HTML 5 ad.
  3. Also, you can create a new ad using AdWords’ “ad ideas”.

If You Have Flash Ads Running on Third-arty Ad Servers

Hosting your ads on a third-party server makes it impossible for AdWords to detect if your ads uses Flash or not. First, check if you still have Flash ads running on your server. If you do, it is recommended to create a new image ad or an HTML 5 ad, then upload it to your preferred third-party server.

Again, Google has provided free tools to change your ads into HTML 5 ads:

— Google Web Designer. As mentioned above, this is a free HTML 5 authoring tool that you can use to build ads for the Display Network.

— AdWords Ad Gallery. Create an ad from existing templates in HTML 5, as well as custom ad ideas based on your website.

What to expect next

As of now, Google will be implementing this change only for the Display Network, with Flash videos still being supported. We can only further suggest that HTML 5 elements should be adopted going forward.

There’s no word yet on Google’s stand on Flash video ads, but with their steps in getting rid of Flash entirely from their system, it’s an inevitable move that they will make in the following years.


This is a guest contribution by John Stevens. When he’s not grooming his beard, John works as a hosting expert and consultant. He contributes to WebsiteSetup.org with a friend, and he also co-authored the HTML5 Beginner’s Guide and Cheat Sheet found in Website Setup. He’s looking forward to master AdWords too to promote his hosting reviews site.

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