98.4% of Web users can experience Macromedia Flash content without having to download and install a player. Over 4 million homes now access the web via broadband with 40,000 new ones connecting each week. Rich Media Ads receive 5 times higher click through rates than traditional online ads. With figures like these perhaps it is time I started taking Flash seriously.
This post was first published in October 2004. The content found here may well be out of date.
The problem with Flash
My problem is that I don’t like Flash. Or more to the point, I don’t like the way people use Flash. Also despite Macromedia’s assurances I still have serious concerns about its accessibility. However if I am truthful I think my biggest problem is ignorance. I used Flash in the early days and soon concluded that it was great for novelty animation but not much else. Well the product has since evolved and I have only recently returned to it in order to revaluate its potential.
Flash and advertising
Flash has seen its largest success in the world of online advertising and has, in conjunction with PPC advertising, revived the flagging market. Users that had become banner blind were recaptured with the TV like qualities of Flash. Flash could engage the viewer through exciting moving images and the use of high levels of interaction.
Flash has the potential to provide considerably more information on a product than a traditional banner ad without asking the user to leave the current web page they are viewing. Take for example the recent Kill Bill advert that has been short listed for the 4th Annual EyeBlaster Creative Awards. This advert not only promoted the film but allowed the user to view a gallery of images, all from within the ad itself. Another short listed advert allowed the user to play a scratch card style game while other ads even contain streaming video.
Lessons to be learnt
Of course we don’t all have large online marketing budgets to splash around on buying ad space. However that doesn’t mean we cannot learn some valuable lessons from the use of flash in online advertising.
We know that flash is a powerful ‘attention grabber’ and that the vast majority of users can view the plugin. We know the an increasing number of users have broadband access that allows the use of bandwidth intensive features such as streaming video.
With all of these things in mind perhaps it is time to look at Flash as a way of pushing traffic to key parts of our sites whether it is promoting certain products or focusing a user on a specific call to action.
Flash also allows us to demonstrate and explain complex concepts in an easier to understand and more engaging fashion. If a flash advert can allow a user to engage in an interactive scratch card game why cannot it also be used to allow users to interact with your products virtually or take part in an e-learning application. From streaming video presentations to interactive product demonstrations Flash opens up endless possibilities for your site that transcend simple text and imagery.
If you are interested in discussing how Flash could benefit your site or you are interested in running a rich media campaign then click here to email me now.