Advertising is about to get ugly

I’ve a lot of time for Open Source. I’ve a lot of time for standards and protocols. Yet when it comes to advertising, the attacks on Flash have me worried.

The reason isn’t that I want to see Adobe continue to dominate the market, I don’t.

I don’t even care whether Flash gets adopted by every smart phone around.

I care because the debate over Flash vs HTML5 focusses on technology, not ideas.

Taking a look at how an iAd is created I have to say that I’m worried. Worried that these will take more manpower to produce, which makes them more expensive, or that they will be more limited because of their complexity.

And let’s just look at that word: complexity.

I use it in the sense of how easily certain functions in web advertising can be achieved. Flash is guilty of this also of course. The change from Action Script 2 to Action Script 3 has had the effect of making certain functions more complex. I look at some web ads and ask myself where the need for Action Script 3 is.

In the same way I ask where the need for style sheets is.

It all just increases complexity.

And that’s when we begin to focus on the wrong details.

Invariably the ideas get pushed back as the gap between coder and creative widens.

Maybe that’s the cost of freedom and certainly in the world of enabling information to a wide audience and retaining control of our data that all seems good and worthwhile. But in the world of advertising it’s not the same. I’d rather see a static ad with a well designed message than let the technology lead. Flash, for all its flaws, has two things in its favour: the reach to a wide audience through browser technology and the way anybody can use it.

As time passes and tools become available then maybe this will change but at the moment it seems that most of the people attacking Flash ads are doing so because they don’t like advertising. They feel that Flash enables it to be invasive and irritating (which it does). But that’s not an argument for changing technology, that’s an argument for changing ideas.

And that is where the debate ought to be.