HTML5 Advertising 2016

By Erin Berkenmeier Display Advertising Online Advertising February 19, 2016

With the demise of Adobe Flash as the nonpareil of display advertising, HTML5 is now the official lingua franca of ad creation. For years, Flash animated ads gave us eye-catching digital experiences that captured the imagination of viewers. In 2016, as mobile dominates digital advertising and desktop browsers look to the future, HTML5-based advertising has assumed Flash’s mantle. But a sea change isn’t an easy thing, and the advertising industry still contends with challenges unique to HTML5 being the new standard in ad creation.

What is HTML5?

Let’s start at the start. HTML5, JavaScript and CSS3 comprise an “HTML5 ad.” HTML5 is the code behind the ad that browsers can read. JavaScript is then introduced as the dynamic engine of the ad, executing dynamic behavior like browser detection, analytics, interaction data, cookie setting and animation. The third part of an HTML5 ad is CSS3, a language that applies the ad’s look and feel. Increasingly, CSS3 is also handling the animation powers of JavaScript as well. Additional assets include images, APIS and video, but the triad of HTML5, JavaScript and CSS3 represents what defines an “HTML5 ad.”

Pros of HTML5 Ads

The HTML5 ad format promotes consistency – your ads fit and look great on mobile, in apps and on desktop—without the technical constraints of Flash. HTML5 ads can have video, animation, interaction, social media feeds, maps and more integrated into the ad. And unlike Flash ads, HTML5 ads can do this on desktop, mobile or any advertising platform.

With mobile media buys increasing 54% from the first half of 2014, the reality is that mobile is the future of digital advertising and HTML5 is the standard to deliver that.

Then there’s data. Performance tracking, campaign optimization, interaction data and retargeting potential get in high gear with the HTML5 standard.  This empowers advertising to be more dynamic. Contextualizing and personalizing advertising across devices is more emboldened with HTML5 than Flash ever allowed for. And today, data-driven personalization is everything in advertising.

HTML5 also beats its predecessor in higher user engagement, viewability and CTRs. And on mobile devices, cool new HTML5 interactions that are unique to mobile, such as gyroscope and accelerometer animations, open up compelling new advertising possibilities.

The Challenges to HTML5 Ads

With all of this HTML5 goodness, what have we traded away?

You may have noticed that display advertising across the internet seems to have lost some of its gusto recently. That’s because HTML5 animation cannot yet match Flash-enabled high-impact animation. Not only are HTML5 animation tools less capable, they are file-size heavy. So that beautiful 40k Flash ad from the past now pushes 200k as an HTML5 ad. The result of HTML5’s bloat and creative shortcomings has been a retreat to static ads and low quality creative. For those of us who’ve been through a few rodeos in this industry, it feels like advertising has stepped back a decade.

To step up to this challenge, PETROL’s creative teams are developing, testing and deploying high quality HTML5 display ad work that pushes the creative envelope. We’ve researched and defined new proprietary techniques to bring memorable high-impact animation to HTML5 ads at user-friendly file sizes. Our service to our clients is to not beat the drums of retreat. Instead we are finding the unique blend of ad tech and creative magic that makes for high-impact creative in this new advertising paradigm. See the latest PETROL campaigns for Sony and XCom.

In light of the limitations that mobile and HTML5 present, HTML5 ads demand a unique mix of artistry and programming. DIY tools have come online that make HTML5 ad creation ‘easy’, but they target the novice and intermediate. These tools don’t have enough in the tank for high quality brand advertising. PETROL’s efforts at finding that special HTML5 blend of creative and tech are paying off with rich immersive audience ad experiences.

HTML5 ads also demand agency prowess in knowing the ad tech that delivers advertising. Optimization and performance are crucial in a mobile world, and we love that creative challenge. We believe in more robust ad tech tools, JavaScript libraries, MRAID, VAST, VPAID and Quality Assurance protocols to ensure that clients get the ad distribution they are investing in.

While many agencies and vendors have yet to understand these protocols fully, PETROL’s digital team applies these critical principles to our creative concepts to ensure that our clients’ ads run as intended. We believe advertising can still excite audiences, while also meeting IAB and publisher HTML5 standards. HTML5 does not have to ring the death knell of memorable creative in display advertising.

So in saying goodbye to Flash, we at PETROL wipe away a tear for our old friend, and we look to the future with bright eyes at an HTML5 mobile advertising paradigm. As an agency partner, we pride ourselves on merging creative, data and ad tech uniquely to deliver our clients high-impact solutions that give them the most bang for their buck. We make the impossible, marketable.

Erin Berkenmeier

Erin Berkenmeier

An avid explorer of internet culture, Erin has spent the past 6 years building successful digital experiences and creative campaigns for social media.