Flash to HTML5 Ads: 4 Ways to Transition to HTML5

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  • Post last modified:October 30, 2020

The death of Flash is good news to the advertising realm. We can have better engaging rich media ads that truly drive results compared to static banners. However, two months into the “Flashpocalyse”, we have agencies and marketers still looking for rich media HTML5 ad solution.

If you have yet to do so or are still weighing your options, no worries, read on to find out

  • How from Flash to HTML5 will impact you
  • What is HTML5 creative and how it works
  • What’s the benefits to you for converting to HTML5
  • Our proposed transitions options to guide you through

How The Change Helps Marketers and Brands

Adobe Flash has been for many years, the rich media platform used by agencies and brands to add videos, animations, and interactivity on ads. By 2011, Adobe has ended Flash for mobile platforms; followed by Apple devices not supporting Flash. Moreover, now with Google Chrome blocking Adobe Flash, you need to embrace a better fitting format—HTML5 for your digital advertising needs.

Instead of feeling the dread, we should celebrate the change. Why? Because, HTML5 ad format makes your ads fit and look great anywhere—in apps, mobile and the desktop web without the technical constraints like Flash.

“We should see a more consistent, elegant, and content-rich movement in ad creative onward. The same creative unit, through a single implementation, can be made adaptive and will reach users, with consistency around content and UI elements, across screens and channels.” — Aaron Wood, director of production services for AOL premium experiences at AOL Platforms (Source: MediaPost)

What Is HTML5 Ad and How It Works in Digital Advertising

An HTML5 banner ad can have various rich media content embedded within the ad. Besides videos, animations, and interactions, you can integrate applications like social media feeds, maps, videos, calendar, and many others.

Straightforward HTML5 ad with simpler content is small in file size and can easily be sent for trafficking by many ad networks and traffic agencies.

However, for advanced interactive ads, you’ll need the content to be rendered during ad serving. Hence, it is not as simple as just displaying the ad content.

Imagine a mini website within your ad unit. You can play with the components: watch a YouTube video; read and tweet on the Twitter feeds; find the nearest store with Google Map, or snap a photo for Facebook share.

This is build using HTML5 codes.

This kind of ads is served in a tag called “ad tag”. The tag will be handed to the ad inventory source like publishers, ad networks or DSP.

Upon an ad request, the server will assemble the codes; render it in the browser or application level. Then, the users will see your ad and play with it.

Think of it like hosting a website, but the website will be shown only when requested.

Furthermore, you will need interaction trackers embedded in all engagement points in the ad to provide tracking points. As users play with your ad, the interaction data will be collected and presented in detailed analytics.

With detailed reporting, you can use it to measure your campaign success. Also for campaign optimization, retargeting purpose or simply to understanding your users behavior.

Advantages of HTML5 Ads vs. Flash

HTML5 format with MRAID compliance produce amazing mobile ads. There are many creative possibilities you can offer on your ad, i.e. take photos, book calendar, shake and tilt your phone, play mini-game, check the compass and locate the nearest store.

What’s more, HTML5 banners ads are known to

  • Improve user engagement and ROI — 3x more interactions
  • Improve CTR — almost 50% higher
  • Have higher viewability rates than Flash — 25% more viewable
  • Allow you to create better reachability and targeting for varied audience — based on users engagement behavior
  • Increase awareness, more memorable, and lift brand or ad recall
  • Offer more data and tracking for campaign optimization

(Source: Sizmek)

As we’re getting more mobile-first, and with viewability becoming more significant in measuring campaign success, HTML5 banners and rich media look very promising for the future of digital advertising.

flash vs html5 viewability rate

(Source: eMarketer)

How to Transition to HTML5 Ads

Now, to be HTML5-first, there are various options. It is imperative to note that just the production of HTML5 ads is incomplete for your advertising needs.

As mentioned before, you will need hosting, ad serving and tracking too.

Hence, finding the right solution helps you go a long way. So, these should help you to decide which model works best for you.

Option #1: Engage HTML5 Rich Media Vendors / Creative Agencies / Ad Developers

Outsourcing your creative works to rich media vendors or creative agencies might just be the most common agencies opt for. It is likened to an extended team that does all the creative production for you. These teams sometimes also offer creative proposals for your campaign goals too.

However, there are a few downsides to this option that you should be aware of, and here are some of the general issues.

  • Lead-time — Every vendors or agency offer different lead-time.
  • Development Costs — Ad developers can be rather pricey at times, depending on which team you engage with.
  • Disintegrated Flow — because these options do not usually come with ad serving or reporting services.

On top of that, some vendors are typical software house that are not ad tech focused. So standards like MRAID, VAST, VPAID and many more are forsaken.

With ad tech standards ignored, it means your ads are highly likely not optimized.

This may results in broken ads when served in different traffic sources, slow loading time, distorted content, no functional components and many more.

So, it is important that you be clear of the vendors’ offerings before engaging them.

Other offerings and services you should look for are

  • Full testing of ad and its tag on various browsers and devices
  • Disparity checks of impressions served from traffic source vs. ad serving
  • MRAID, VAST, VPAID compliance

Option #2: Get a Self-Serve HTML5 Ad Builder

A self-serve HTML5 ad builder is what we’d highly recommend. It offers better control of your offerings to your client as an ad agency or network.

There are many types of ad builder available today. Some ad creators, online or offline, do not offer hosting, ad serving, and tracking. While some offer full range features and can be very sophisticated. Where you can build your animation, with integral app components like videos, social feeds, map, compass, gallery, and many more.

Creative agencies typically use more complex ad builders such as this. Also, are charged at mid to high range of ad serving fees.

An excellent self-serve HTML5 creative platform should be easy to use and includes ad serving and analytical reports. With the do-it-yourself concept, you can reduce your ad development costs and have faster turnaround time.

Despite requiring some learning on the platform, you will find it well worth your investment in the long run.

It is important that you find the best-fit creative platform that your team of designers or advertisers can create the ad themselves quickly.

Option #3: Flash to HTML5 Converter

Converters like Swiffy and Flash to HTML5 Online enable you to convert your existing Flash files into HTML5 format.

This may seem like a quick fix to get a rich media ad using HTML5. However, in the long run, you still need to create Flash files and are expected to convert it all the time with the converter.

The downside of this option is that you are not fully utilizing what HTML5 technology can do for your ad campaign. You’ll be limiting your ad potential to only what Flash can offer.

On top of that, the converted files can be cumbersome and definitely not fully optimized.

So, unless it is necessary, we’ll advise you not to do this.

Option #4: Flash Pro HTML5 Canvas drawing API

Adobe had come up with a solution for when Flash died. They are offering API for developers to create animations, videos, and interactivity that output as HTML5.

It gives a smoother transition on the platform itself, especially for agencies or brands that have been using Flash in the past.

It does give a flatter learning curve, but you’ll need skilled developers to work on the API. Moreover, you’d have ad serving to worry about too.

Eventually, having the dynamic HTML5 creative will still require some work to get it work on ad tags.


There’s the saying that no one size fits all. You may opt for a short-term solution for particular needs.

Building interactive ads is the way forward for digital advertising. So it is important to have a more solid plan that works for the long run. Where costs, lead-time, and performance will impact the success of your ad campaigns.


Alvin is the Founder and CEO of MobileAds.com. He is a go-getter, and adventurous guy who believes in working smart to gain success in his business ventures and in life. He also founded RichMediaAds.com and MobileLanders.com.

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