Flash's fall from grace continues as Amazon swings ad banhammer

The end of Flash's ubiquity on the web appears nigh.

After Apple’s anti-Flash stance on iOS extended to Android and YouTube dumped Flash for HTML5, Flash’s fate for web video was pretty much sealed. Web advertising, however, was an area Flash still dominated, at least for desktops. Now Amazon has made the first move in what may become a trend for advertising platforms.

The company says it will no longer accept Flash ads on Amazon.com and the Amazon Advertising Platform beginning Tuesday, September 1. Amazon is not taking a stand for technology, however. The company says it is doing this because of recent changes from the major browser makers. Amazon owned less then one percent worldwide market share of digital ads in 2014, according to eMarketer.

Google, for example, recently announced that Chrome will soon automatically pause Flash content if the browser determines a piece of content isn’t “central to the webpage”—and you can’t get any more non-central than ads. Google made the changes in cooperation with Flash-maker Adobe to reduce Chrome’s battery usage on Chromebooks and laptops. The search giant hopes to roll out this functionality to all users in September. 

Then there’s all the security issues surrounding Flash. In July, Mozilla temporarily blocked Flash by default on the Firefox browser after a gaping security hole became public following the Hacking Team debacle. Then there was Yahoo’s recent embarassing ’malvertising’ issue that happened thanks to another security problem with Flash and the failure of users to update their browser plug-ins.

Why this matters: Chrome has just under 40 percent of the desktop browser market in the United States, according to StatCounter. That’s a massive chunk of American desktop users, on top of the non-Flash using mobile visitors, that may not be seeing Flash ads come September. It’s no wonder Amazon would decide to dump Flash on that statistic alone. The question now is whether larger advertising platforms will follow suit and what impact that will have on Flash’s presence on the web.


Ian Paul

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