2009 Flash prediction, the year of Flash Advertising

To support my prediction for Flash in 2009, I’d like to make the argument that while Flash Platform has become a proven Application platform, Flash Player is being used mostly for other purposes. I’d like to review my assumptions on Flash Player usage, and show why, along with the recent key improvements in Flash, next year is poised to be the year of Flash Advertising.

Current Use of Flash (based on what I think — not actual stats that I haven’t obtained):

60% as a Video Player (youtube, vimeo)
20% as an Ad vehicle (banners, point of sale, point of contact)
10% as a gaming engine (web and mobile)
5% as widgets (blog sidebar, myspace)
5% as an application engine (external and internal apps)

Key improvements over the past year and a half to Flash (Flash Player, CSx and Catalyst), in order of rank (again, not actual stats):

1. Video and audio enhancements
2. Animation (timeline) enhancements
3. 3D enhancements
4. Interface design
5. Compilation (packaging/deployment) size

I know Gumbo is introducing many ‘code’ improvements, but until that goes public, I’m focusing mostly on what was introduced to the Flash ecosystem most recently.

So, as you can see based on my assessment of Flash Player usage, the Flash coded swfs built as ‘applications’ probably make up the least use cases for Flash. The big push for RIA development is no match for the more mainstream use of Flash Player by the end user. Granted, while a video player swf still involves coding like an app, the player itself is not similar in functionality or complexity to something like a SlideRocket, Picnick or Photoshop Express. I think there is room for growth in all categories, but probably in parallel. As more people discover online video, that use of Flash Player will continue to grow and likely out-pace them all.

However, as holiday season shopping numbers indicate, despite a down economy, online sales figures continue to grow. With the shift of media consumption online versus the traditional media of TV/Radio/Newspaper, I’m thinking companies will look at Flash to compete more online. This means that more talented developers, designers and agencies will gravitate towards higher paying projects in this space.

The following advertising/marketing values are and will be leveraged more with Flash:

– Brand Recognition (viral communication of brand)
– Product awareness (viral spreading news of newly announced product)
– Point of Sale/Contact (customers actually purchase OR are put in touch directly with sales team)

What I like about this possibility is that it harnesses several disciplines of the Flash Platform community, ranging from design to development. I’m not just talking about a banner or ‘small swf’ form factor. Flash deployment in all sizes can accomplish successful advertising objectives. My hope is that this potential adoption places more value on extending Flash for communication as well as driving Flash Platform content producers to minimize the size of their swf and implement the most efficient (size and performance) methodologies possible.

The wildcard to this projection is potential and likely growth of the AIR (desktop) and mobile (possible iPhone) platforms. Here, Flash Platform use-cases like gaming and application development will surge.


1 Comment

Keith Peters

Interesting post. I agree with a lot of points. It really is interesting the ratio of RIA/Flex related books, websites, tutorials, events, speakers, hype, etc. out there, to the number of actual useful Flex applications you see on a daily basis. Same with AIR. My twitter client is a Flex/AIR app, but other than that, I don’t have any AIR apps installed, and can’t think of any Flex RIAs I use on any sort of regular basis.

I think you estimated low on the games arena, both in terms of existing use of Flash in games, and potential growth. There are dozens of big name game portals out there with lots of members and tons of games. If you’re not involved in that world, you don’t know how big it actually is.

Nice conclusion though on advertising. I wouldn’t have called that, but it fits in nicely with the other items. Flash video is obviously the big use. We now see ads in Youtube. Just about all major TV networks are offering full episodes of their big programs on line, often via Flash, and crammed full of Flash advertising – both video ads and surrounding. DoubleClick has it’s Motif Instream Flash video ad and Flash in Flash ad products, which it is pushing out heavily. In the game arena, Google is offering in-game ads for Flash games, and it’s hard to find a Flash game that doesn’t implement Mochi Ads.

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