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Flash is dead. So what now for marketers?

By now, marketers and their agencies have probably heard the news: Flash is on its deathbed.

Stewart Warner

The solution seems simple enough: just start developing animated display ads in HTML5 instead of Flash and push them out the door, right?

Not so fast. Making the move to HTML5 involves some important updates to your digital production strategy; most significantly, implementing a robust quality assurance plan.

The reason? Device fragmentation. In the new model, the same unit may run across a wide variety of devices: desktop, mobile, and tablet. With consumers using more devices, marketers will need to test their creative on more platforms than ever before—otherwise, their ads may not render as designed, or worse, they may not render at all.

In contrast, Flash ads only ran on desktop and generally behaved similarly across operating systems. As a result, marketers got away with using a moonlighting developer or project manager to test their ads on whatever random assortment of computers happened to be available in the office that day. Those days are now over.

Since HTML5 ads run across the gamut of smartphones and tablets, marketers and their agencies will need a dedicated quality assurance team if they want to avoid wasting their money on defective ads.

As daunting as these challenges may seem, there are plenty of ways you can put yourself in a position to succeed. Here are a few of them:

1. Keep up with all of the latest releases so that you can test your ads on new devices the moment consumers get their hands on them.

Presently, Apple device users are using several different operating systems and about nine different screen sizes across the modern iPhones and iPads. Meanwhile, Android users are spread out across thousands of different devices and dozens of different screen resolutions.

2. Know what your consumer audience is using.

Your intended audience will dictate which devices you or your QA team need to have in-house to test on. For example, roughly 7.7 per cent of US mobile users are still using 320x480 point screens, which includes the iPhone 4, making it the fourth most popular screen resolution. If you want your creative to reach them, you’ll need to test your creative on those lower-resolution devices.

3. Hire a qualified QA team or contract with an outside partner.

QA comes in waves. While things might be quiet on Monday, Tuesday might bring three new campaigns that all need to be running smoothly across a range of devices by the end of the week. When that moment comes, you’ll want to be prepared to handle the overflow.

For all of the headaches marketers and agencies will experience with these changes, the end result of this journey will be an HTML5 standard that allows us to show consumers awesome rich media ads regardless of which devices they're on or wherever they happen to be.

Stewart Warner is director of quality assurance at Hook QA

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