Five reasons marketers should embrace Flash-free dynamic display

adobe flash logoEvery year the proclamation is heard, “This is the year of the mobile.” Could 2014 be the year that it finally rings true for marketers? Recently, the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB)’s Mobile unit contributed its share in making this year “The One” by prompting an open letter to marketers.

Commenting on marketers’ passivity in the mobile movement, the letter pleaded with them to “make mobile work.” It implored marketers to commit to improving mobile display advertising by using device-agnostic HTML5 to build mobile ads.

According to Google’s 2013 Our Mobile Planet, 62 per cent of UK’s population owns a smartphone. Daily mobile activities in the UK ranged from shopping to emailing, accessing social networks or – like 83 per cent of their fellow mobile users – browsing the web. Of note, Safari is the choice browser for 60 per cent of mobile or tablet users, as reported by NetMarketShare.

Although marketers considered mobile as a relevant shopping medium, few had depended on it to facilitate sales. Meanwhile, innovative tech suppliers were, and remain, convinced: there is no reason personalised display campaigns couldn’t be a seamless operation across tablets, smartphones and desktop, too — thanks to HTML5.

The IAB’s Mobile branch is right to put this in the foreground today. If marketers need more persuading, here are five reasons why HTML5 could solidify this year’s candidacy as ‘The Year of the Mobile’.

1. Flash is on the decline
In the past ten years, Flash has been the frontrunner for animated display ads on desktop. Today, Adobe’s proprietary browser plug-in is struggling to maintain relevancy. Due to its total reliance on Adobe for updates, Flash can only be maintained and advanced behind Adobe’s development walls. By contrast, HTML5 is an open and transparent coding standard tended to by a global programming community. Interestingly, even Adobe is well aware of Flash’s diminishing applicability having made known, as early as 2011, their redirected focus towards HTML5 development instead. Marketers keen on keeping up in this personalised display game need to invest in HTML5 frameworks early on, lest they be left behind with the soon-to-be departed Flash player.

2. Dynamic display – manual installations need not apply
At present, many display ads are still based on Flash. Unfortunately, this software severely limits marketers’ online reach should they desire an inclusion of Apple-device loyalists. Firstly, Flash requires manual installation and constant updates thereafter. While this is generally a cumbersome process for most smartphone or tablet owners, Flash installation isn’t even possible within Apple’s mobile family. With Safari as the default browser for iPhones or iPads, personalised display campaigns don’t stand a chance of reaching 60 per cent of the aforementioned mobile owners in the UK. HTML5 display ads can remedy this, as the language makes dynamic ads possible across desktops, tablets and mobile devices – in both browsers and apps.

3. Seamless cross-device marketing messages
HTML5 extends the opportunity for marketers to vamp-up their digital display campaigns across all connected mobile devices – regardless of whether their target audience favour Chrome or Safari; Android or iOS; BlackBerry, Windows Phone, Java ME, et al. Forward-thinking marketers may show their programmatic prowess by connecting digital display strategies to their CRM systems, enabling the chance to not only reach customers across different channels, but to do so in a manner that parallels the customer journey across devices. This means a customer browsing on their mobile whilst on public transport may be reached with personalised display ads once he or she is at home on their laptop, perhaps where they are more likely to convert. Whereas Flash places restrictions on dynamic ads, HTML5 promotes a personalised marketing narrative across devices.

4. Personalised content is king
Shoppers’ eyes glaze over when it comes to irrelevant content. But interests are piqued when displayed content speaks to personal tastes, as proven by higher click-through rates (CTR). Thanks to intelligent product recommendation engines, marketers can serve dynamic ads bearing custom-tailored messages for their customers. Gone are the days of static, irrelevant and obtrusive ads. Today’s advanced digital display technology – amplified by HTML5 – is capable of providing an individualised window-shopping experience which is far more interesting for anyone browsing the web, regardless of the screen.

5. The user-centric approach
The practice of grouping customers based on basic demographic characteristics, as a means of deducing consumer behaviour, is as outdated as Flash. The result is a generalised marketing plan for an imprecise target. Instead, dynamic display ads create a personal conversation between marketer and shopper, rather than a might-be-right group of shoppers. This personalised touch varies from products recommended to product pricing, from call-to-action to special offers — and more. The brilliance of programmatic display is that this personalisation is scientifically calculated. In matters of milliseconds the perfect advert is arranged for a distinct shopper. By leveraging HTML5 technology for these intelligent display ads, a personalised message is served from marketer to shopper across all connected devices. Rather than a single memo to all, this is a user-individual formula.

The programmatic technology, which syncs mobile display to marketers and their target audience, is already built. Perhaps the time has come for marketers to cross that bridge.

Gavin Wilson is the Managing Director of Sociomantic Labs UK.