Amazon puts another nail in Flash’s coffin

Adobe Flash is having a rough month.

Amazon said this week that starting in September, it will no longer accept Flash ads on or on Amazon Advertising Platform, which lets advertisers target Amazon Shoppers on Amazon’s sites and across the Web.

Amazon said the move is a reaction to the recent anti-Flash tweaks from browser makers, which have taken aim at the software over the past few months. Chrome, which commands nearly 45 percent of the browser market, was recently fitted with a feature that automatically pauses non-essential Flash content, which essentially means ads. Apple, the most vocal of Flash critics, doesn’t let flash content run on the iPhone and iPad, and also forces Safari users to download plugins before they can view Flash content. And Firefox maker Mozilla temporarily blocked Flash content in Firefox after a security scare in June.

Now comes the retail Goliath.

“This change ensures customers continue to have a positive, consistent experience across Amazon and its affiliates, and that ads displayed across the site function properly for optimal performance,” the company said in a statement on its technical specs page. An Amazon spokesperson would not elaborate on the thinking behind the decision.

The move comes on the heels of July’s massive Yahoo “malvertising” attack, which exploited a vulnerability in Flash to hijack the computers of Yahoo users. Flash critics say that the technology’s persistent security issues are just one of the many reasons that the industry should have moved away from it years ago. Despite that, Flash still holds over 90 percent of the rich-media market, according to data from Sizmek.

Amazon, which will take 3 percent of the $27 billion U.S. digital display market this year, isn’t as big as Google or even Facebook, which together control nearly 40 percent of the market, according to eMarketer. But its decision to block Flash content is significant because it is a clear sign that some in the ad industry are responding to Flash’s imminent demise.

“This feels very much like preparation for the Chrome change,” said Undertone co-founder Eric Franchi. “Google controls the browser marker, so if you’re an advertiser and you’re running all your ads through Flash, then you’re going to have issues soon.”

And Amazon isn’t alone. This week the IAB tweaked its display guidelines to push advertisers away from Flash and toward HTML5, a nascent alternative that promises better cross-compatibility between desktop and mobile screens. The format, however, also introduces some new hurdles for agencies, which have to adjust to its code-heavy creation process.

But while the industry seems to be taking steps to bury Flash once and for all, some complain it’s not going fast enough.

“Things are building, but I’m not seeing any real urgency, probably because people still aren’t ready,” said Franchi.

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