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The Age of HTML5 Ads

By Shailley Singh

As September approaches, Ad Tech world has one more thing to look forward to besides fall colors—HTML5. Just as the daylight hours shorten and veins that carry fluids to the leaves are blocked off, browsers are turning on power saver plugins that will further diminish the audience for flash—giving way to a new canvas to paint with HTML5 Ads. It will usher in a new era of media rich and responsive ad units that will be seamlessly served across devices, platforms and browsers.

Since the publication of WHATG Living Standard for HTML5 in 2012, publishers have been migrating to HTML5. Today, only about 10% of all websites use Flash for client side technology. IAB has provided support to the industry in this transition through best practices guidance via HTML5 for Digital Advertising: Guide for Ad Designers and Creative Technologists and by making HTML5 a cornerstone for Make Mobile Work initiative. But the pace of change has never been faster and the resolve to push this transition has never been more intense. Since the W3C’s release of HTML5 as stable recommendation in October 2014, IAB Display Creative guidelines Workgroup has been testing a diverse range HTML5 ad units for load performance and optimization.

Several initiatives are underway or about to take off at IAB Tech Labs to help the industry take advantage of all that HTML5 has to offer.

  • Updated Creative Display Guidelines released for public comments to embrace HTML5 based standards and allow for higher file weights, multiple file requests, use of code libraries and make use of canvas and video elements. This is a direct result of extensive testing for load performance of HTML5 ad units. The new guidelines will help publishers and advertisers standardize HTML5 ad specifications to deliver seamless experiences to consumers. In future, the display guidelines will be converted into a technical specification that will advance iteratively and can be easily integrated into Ad Tech vendor products to comply with faster change of pace
  • Revision of the HTML5 for Digital Advertising: Guide for Ad designers and Creative Technologists with more specific information and actions that you can pursue in transitioning to HTML5. This covers a diverse range of topics like optimization of assets, use of code libraries, click tag implementation,  common tools and platforms, animation and video, ad server compatibility and effectively applying related technologies like CSS3, JS, SVG, Web Fonts, 2D WebGL, and more.
  • Revising the HTML5 for Digital Advertising resources Wiki to make it a continuously updated page reviewed quarterly for constantly changing compatibilities as well as repository of tool, libraries and platforms with data on how to evaluate the tools that best fit an advertiser’s needs
  • Building an HTML5 Ad Validator to support publishers and creative developers in validating ad assets against IAB display guidelines compliance for file weight calculations, number of requests, initial display and subload guidance as well as load performance data
  • New Webinars from leaders in HTML5 adoptions on the most pressing questions about a successful transition
  • Events for deep dives into HTML5 creative technology to provide a hands on guidance as well as opportunity to ask in depth questions
  • Flex Ad standards will revise the ad portfolio and display guidelines into responsive ad units that take full advantage of canvas element to create rich, immersive, and interactive brand experiences, while at the same time responding to the device size to blend seamlessly into fluid and responsive modern websites and apps designs. These standards will be revised on a continuous basis to keep pace with the fast changing markets and maintained as versions to enable smoother adoption in smaller iterations.
  • Dynamic Ad Standards for truly dynamic content optimization for digital ads that will allow creative to catch up with ad tech’s ability to target, render, and serve ads based on dynamic audience and context variables
  • Simplifying the IAB Standard Ad Portfolio to provide the industry with winning ad units across all devices

Its going to be an exciting Fall as it sets the stage for bidding adieu to Flash ads that have been the mainstay for Display Advertising for over a decade and chart a new path as we learn, adopt, and welcome the age of HTML5 Ads.


Shailley Singh
Senior Director, Product and Research & Development