Flash® Sucks for Advertisers
A talk given at HOPE Number Six in 2006

Richard Cheshire
The Cheshire Catalyst

HOPE Number Six

The "Hackers On Planet Earth" (HOPE) Conferences
are put on every other year by 2600 Magazine
The Hackers Quarterly

Macromedia Flash® is seemingly The Advertisers Friend. It creates "Eye Candy". It attracts, and holds the attention of Consumer Eyeballs.

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Do you want to be in control of Flash?
Here's a tip: use the FireFox browser and the FlashBlock add-on. Highly recommended.  
FireFox browser FlashBlock add-on

    Reasons I Hate flash.
  1. It wastes my time.
  2. It rarely has content in it that I want to see.
  3. It doesn't know if I have Graphics turned off.
  4. It takes forever to download Flash content - if you haven't got the resources.
  5. It's pop-up box always asks "Always trust Macromedia content?"

    It Wastes My time
  • "You only have to download Flash once".
    • But they keep coming up with bloated new versions.
  • Flash enabled content takes forever to load
  • Some people are still on dial-up
  • It keeps "moving the picture", so my eye is naturally following it, and finds it difficult to break away from it
    • A technique first used by M-TV Music videos. I have never forgiven M-TV for this
  • On a dial-up connection, it seemingly takes forever to start up.

    It Rarely Has Content I Want to See
  • I'm not looking for the #31 Cingular Wireless Nextel Cup chasing Chevrolet Monte Carlo to zoom around my screen, I want to read Jeff Burton's Bio. I want to join his Fan Club. Why are you wasting my time?
  • Your ad is annoying enough as an Animated GIF. Now you're inflicting me with Flash as well?
    • Why can't Yahoo Mail have a Preference for "No Flash Ads", and "No Animated Ads"?
    • Preferences should ask "Connection Speed?", and if "Dialup" is checked, should limit the size of Animated GIFs presented to the user.
  • At least the Animated GIF had WIDTH and HEIGHT components in the IMG tag.
  • GIF's also can have ALT components for a text comment to appear for those who have graphics turned off
  • Tables cannot be displayed until the Width & Height of each image is known.
    • If W&H components are in each Image Tag, the table will display its text immediately, & fill in the graphics later.
    • If not included, the images must load before displaying the table - and the user has moved on, since nothing appears to be happening.
    It doesn't know if I have Graphics turned off.
    Who turns graphics off: ModelTeletype
  • People whose terminal can't display graphics
  • College Students during exam week.
    • High bandwidth for an entire dorm means each student only gets so much of it when everyone is hitting the net at once.
  • People with Lynx, the text based browser, still used by blind users with speech synthisizers.
  • WAP Browsers with limited plans on their Cell Phone.
    • a whole 'nother subject: Invite me to a contest via Text Message, and my WAP Browser can't view your Contest Web Page. Fix it, or we'll be here in '08!
    • You've printed your contest's web address on my drink cup. Why wouldn't I whip out my cell phone & try to enter the contest NOW?
  • PDA users whose web browsers eat memory with graphics.
  • On my PDA, I delete any Browser that does not allow me to turn graphics off to hold down transmission cost.

    It takes forever to download Flash content - if you haven't got the resources.
    Who wants Flash?
  • Advertising Agencies can increase their billings due to the higher cost of developing Flash content.
  • They need the fastest processors & video screens & cards to develop it.
  • They have to buy the Desicion Maker a bright, shiny new PC so he's got the processor punch to view the ad
  • Ergo, Advertising Agencies love Flash.
  • Agency Clients are sold the value of "The M-TV Effect", and love the fact that their "dancing product" will keep the attention of the audience.

    Who can't use Flash?
  • People laugh about The NASCAR Nation, but marketers are chasing them at 200 MPH.
  • There are lots of WebTV's out there.
  • Blind users aren't that big a market, who cares if they're alienated, right?
  • People behind Corporate Firewalls where downloads of any kind are forbidden.
  • Paranoid people who are too afraid of what Malware (malicous software) might be hidden in a Flash attachment.
    What's an Advertiser to Do?
  • Don't just say "Get Flash or Get Gone"
    • If you can tell them that you can say "Click Here For Non-Flash Information".
  • Building a non-Flash page is billable, too! And by having one, you don't alienate a potential customer.
  • If you can find the "RULES" page of a Contest, it will often allow you to click straight through to a fairly "normal" page where you can enter the contest. using Forms tags.

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