Google has set a date on when Chrome will begin automatically blocking flash ads and refusing to allow non-critical content to play by default. On September 1st, Chrome will no longer offer to play “non-essential” content. Instead, users will have to right-click on a plugin and choose to “Run this Plugin” by hand. Google claims that this is a move to protect battery life and improve device security, but there’s another, simpler reason: It also stands to make Google more money.
If you’re already a Google AdWords customer, you don’t necessarily have to change anything you’re doing. According to Google, it already converts most Flash ads to HTML5 automatically. Users of the AdWords platform are encouraged to manually confirm that their ads make the jump and to adjust accordingly. If you aren’t on Google’s AdWords platform, however, you’re going to have to either convert your ads for HTML5 or move to Google’s services.
Google is far from the only company moving away from Flash; Amazon has also announced it will no longer accept Flash ads beginning on September 1. The difference, however, is that Amazon’s policies govern ads displayed on Amazon.com, not ads running over its own advertising network. For Google, this kind of move gives it the ability to kill several birds with a single stone. Flash has long been maligned for its battery-hogging tendencies, ability to slow even modern multi-core systems to a crawl, and security flaws. Killing support for the platform, therefore, is arguably great for security and performance.
Few people will argue about a dearth of autoplaying ads on websites, either. Given the number of security breaches that continue to plague the service, there’s little doubt that Flash deserves to die an unlamented death. Among the proposed epitaphs: “You loved it more than RealPlayer.”
What’ll be interesting is if Chrome continues to automatically play videos from services like Facebook, and if we see an uptick in AdWords revenue as a result of this. If you don’t have the time or inclination to rework your ads for HTML5, after all, you may have to move to Google’s platform to continue serving what you have. This shift could draw additional scrutiny from the European Union’s regulators, who recently announced they would investigate Google for anti-competitive activity, including activity related to its advertising and shopping networks. In a response yesterday, Google blasted the suit as being without merit — a common tactic among pretty much every company the EU has investigated, including Microsoft and Intel.
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