HTML and CSS Reference
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and detected to what level the user's machine was capable of rendering the unit. This sort of dynamic adjustment
was really unheard of prior to Rich Media. Additionally, in the event that the user saw a static ad instead of the rich
one, the ad platform would report impressions differently; in most cases the static impressions would be offered at a
reduced CPM to the advertiser.
Tracking and Measurement
Throughout early Rich Media ads, tracking and measurement were pretty minimal yet effective enough to tell a story
for the marketer. Advertisers, however, wanted to know more about their customers if they were going to sink more
media dollars into this space. As more money eventually flowed into the industry, rich media became the common
approach to online advertising.
Since advertisers were now able to measure how many people interacted, expanded, and closed an ad, they could
include photo galleries, e-mail forms, and other creative elements to engage the audience, all the while reporting on
everything and having it conveyed back to the advertiser for valuable brand insight. As time passed, this approach to
advertising became solid enough to sustain advertisers' interest, but HTML, CSS and JavaScript had limitations when
it came to creativity and to what could be done within the native browser environment.
Luckily for advertisers, there was a nifty little browser plug-in gaining traction in the market. The famous
“skip intro” plug-in created by Macromedia allowed developers to easily create rich animation and add video and
interactivity. Simply put, this plug-in single-handedly changed the face of online advertising forever.
Throughout the 2000s, digital advertising was pushed as far as it could go with animated GIFs, HTML, CSS, and
JavaScript. Frequently, some simple interactivity and animated GIFs would be the creative extent of a campaign.
Marketers and advertisers pushed the envelope creatively, but the limitations of the browser were much too significant.
Advertisers just couldn't do things directly inside the browser that they wanted to accomplish. The response to this
limitation was Macromedia's Flash Player.
Flash allowed for gorgeous, highly interactive content within the browser by use of an installed plug-in. The Flash
Player swiftly moved to the forefront; its popularity and ubiquity made it the prime platform for moving online
advertising forward. It finally gave developers and designers a cross-browser way to easily develop online experiences
and deploy everywhere, consistently. Before it came along, such things were really unheard of.
Flash was the answer to many problems, creatively and from a business standpoint, due to its rapid development
environment. By use of the plug-in, web developers were confident that the same experience would be had regardless
of browser manufacturer, operating system, or version. A market once dominated by static ads and basic HTML-driven
experiences quickly transitioned to Flash, thanks to its ease of use and large installed user base.
Flash's market penetration would grow to a percentile in the high nineties in major markets around the globe. No
other browser plug-in had so much reach. In addition to enhancing graphics and interactivity, in time it would come
to support bidirectional streaming of video and audio content, something that a browser alone couldn't dream of
doing (at least back then).
While many developers and designers loved Flash for its ease of use, others disliked it for its easier programming
language, which allowed immature developers to build inefficient and poorly designed programs or experiences.
Flash's JavaScript-like language, ActionScript, permitted code to execute on animation frames, and because of the poor
coding techniques tied to early Flash users, it slowed browser experiences and often even crashed browsers due to the
hogging of computer resources. Since ads could be developed in a fashion that would slow down users' machines and
overuse system resources, Flash typically got a bad rap from the hard-core software developer community.
As Macromedia's Flash continued to grow in both web development and online advertising, Adobe, seeing the
enormous opportunity with Flash, ended up acquiring Macromedia and all of its products on December 3, 2005, for a
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