Google IMA & Video Advertising is Dropping Flash

Reinhard Grandl
. 3 min read
Google to drop Flash for IMA and video ads

Google to drop Flash for IMA and video ads

This June Google will cease development of Flash in the IMA SDKs ending support for the IMA SDK for Flash and Flash VPAID ads in the HTML5 SDK

Google has recently announced that as of June 1, 2017, they will cease development of Flash in the IMA SDKs. This will not only end support in the IMA SDK for Flash, but also support for Flash VPAID ads in the HTML5 SDK. Google is strongly encouraging all publishers that still use Flash based ads to switch to HTML5.
Moving away from Flash is a major theme in today’s web ecosystem and in the field of online video, the move is particularly important, which is why Bitmovin has reported all the significant deadlines and changes as they have been announced.
At Bitmovin we have always been in favour of a plugin free environment, so we designed our HTML5 Adaptive Streaming Video Player to leverage the media source extensions (available in most modern web browsers) for native HTML5 playback rather than relying on plugins. Having said that we still provide our customers the possibility to support legacy systems with our Flash based fallback.

How will this change affect your website?

When we think about Flash, one might only think about little applications and media players from “the good old days”, but Flash based ads have been (and in many cases still are) very common as well. Dropping support for Flash has the potential to cause problems on many ad serving platforms, and chances are, that if you have not prepared for the change, you are in danger of experiencing these problems first hand.
For ad driven businesses, not being able to serve ads due to outdated technology, means a direct loss of revenue. Publishers need to work with future proof, stable and reliable platforms that can deliver ads to reach viewers across all devices and platforms and increase engagement as much as possible.
Bitmovin’s ad interfaces (VAST, VPAID, IMA) are designed and built to serve ads natively in the browser, without the need for plugins.

Deprecating Flash in the IMA SDKs

Most recently, the IMA SDK team announced that they will cease development of Flash in the IMA SDKs. This step will end support for the IMA SDK for Flash, as well as for Flash VPAID ads in the HTML5 SDK.
The announcement effects the publishers, who now are encouraged to migrate to the HTML5 based SDK on the one hand side, but also advertisers, still using Flash based VPAID ads. The latter have to port their ads to JavaScript, to stay compliant. Although using the Flash based SDK will not actively be prevented, bug fixes or technical support will no longer be given, after June 1st. Furthermore, serving Flash based ads will not be supported in the HTML5 SDK and lead to errors.
Our support of IMA based ads has already been built with this change in mind. Using the Bitmovin Player to serve ads without Flash, natively in HTML5 and JavaScript is a great solution and is already being done by many Bitmovin customers .

How to Ensure Ad-Playout Without Flash

As mentioned above, still delivering Flash based ads to users comes with the danger that viewers, using a browser without or deprecated Flash support (quite common these days), can’t be reached anymore. To ensure ad-playout without Flash and across all devices and platforms, we summarized some key points, which need to be considered:

  • You should use a web video player, which does not rely on Flash anymore (or other plugins, like Silverlight, etc.)
  • The player should be based on standardized technologies, like HTML5
  • Ad playback should also be implemented without Flash by the player
  • In case the IMA SDK is used, make sure that it is the HTML5 based one
  • Make sure that your advertiser(s) deliver JavaScript based VPAID ads instead of Flash ones

Your solution should at least offer these features so that successful advertising without Flash can continue. A comprehensive list, of what else should be considered, when choosing an appropriate online video player is addressed in our recent article on building an HTML5 Player.

What Changes for Bitmovin Customers?

As Bitmovin was one of the first movers focusing on online video streaming without plugins the short answer is: Nothing. In more detail, our player used an HTML5 first approach since its first version. Although this default behavior can be changed, using the relevant player configuration, it is only recommended to favor Flash based playout in very specific cases. The same approach holds for our Ad support, nevertheless if one uses the player’s VPAID interface, or the in-build IMA SDK, smooth playout is ensured due to the independency from plugins.


Deprecating Flash in the IMA SDKs aligns with the goal of achieving a plugin-free web. The recent announcement from the IMA SDK team is another trigger for publishers as well as advertisers to move away from Flash based content. We at Bitmovin have always been in favor of pure HTML5/JavaScript based playout, and our Adaptive Streaming Player is the right tool for it.
On the topic of ads, I also jump at the chance to point our readers to a novel concept of serving ads, called server-side ad insertion. This approach, recently added to our player, relies on stitching together content and ads on a CMS level, rather than within the browser. How advertisers, publishers and even viewers can benefit from server-side inserted ads will be discussed in one of our upcoming articles – so stay tuned!
All the best
Reinhard & The Bitmovin Team

Reinhard Grandl

Reinhard Grandl

VP Product

Reinhard received his Master degree from the Alpen-Adria Universität Klagenfurt, specializing on Networked and Embedded Systems, in 2014 and joined Bitmovin in 2013 as part of the player department. Reinhard’s background includes positions in international research and development companies. As a product leader he has a proven track record of delivering products that exceed customer expectations and drive revenue growth. He is passionate about using technology to solve real-world problems.

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