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Evolving Advertising on Mobile
With the news outlined by Adobe, development on mobile had to move into the approach of using web standards
and completely separating from the Flash Player. This caused a huge shift in an already new market, and mobile
advertising needed to follow suit. The industry once dominated by Flash thought that it had a saving grace in the
Android operating system and Blackberry, and it really thought that iOS would come around eventually and accept it
as well.
Needless to say, that didn't happen, so the mobile advertising ecosystem started relatively small. As advertisers
knew that they wanted to be in the space, they looked to their creative agencies and third-party ad servers for help
in navigating the even more fragmented space and enabling an expressive ability to solidify an actual mobile ROI.
However, the division between software, hardware, OS versions, and software development kits (SDKs) was fearful
to invest actual media dollars into. It just didn't make any sense, operationally, for a developer to create a Flash and
HTML5 version of the same ad, not to mention all the different sizes to support, all the different screen real estates on
mobile, and the different SDKs to interface with. It's exhausting just thinking about it!
This posed a huge problem in the advertising industry. Remember from the last chapter that we briefly
discussed responsive design and tracking requirements; currently this portion of the online advertising industry is
still very much fragmented. To place it into perspective, what happens on publisher A's page may not be the same for
publisher B. So what happens when you try to buy media across an ad network? How are you supposed to add scale to
your workload when you have all of these different variables to worry about?
Transition to HTML5
As the market scrambled to figure out in which unified direction to head, many popular browsers and mobile devices
transitioned (or are in the process of transitioning) to an all-HTML5-centric platform, leaving advertisers and
marketers needing to follow suit in order to get their brand message across to their end users, regardless of screen or
device accessing the content. In addition, it's becoming very clear that Flash was in fact a really well designed rapid
development environment—nothing like HTML5, CSS3, and JavaScript to date, but I feel that will change as the tools
become developed and fragmentation eases—so the current state advertisers are frustrated with the operational
timing and costs in order to achieve the same experiences the Flash Player did so well for so long.
IAB Enhancements and SDK Providers
Throughout all of the confusion, fragmentation, and operational woes, the IAB has aimed to assist and support in
the transformations involving HTML5 and mobile by developing a few enhancements. With the varied support in
mobile applications, media buyers could not secure inventory at scale because there was no assurance it would work
across everyone's application. Throughout the mobile ecosystem there are many different ways of serving ads inside
those apps everyone knows and loves on iPhones and Android devices—Angry Birds, Words with Friends, and Draw
Something, for example. The ads seen in these places get into the free applications by way of an SDK. These SDKs
provide the communication channel between the ad creative (HTML5, CSS3, and JavaScript) and the application's
code base, either Objective-C or Java. Think of it as the translator between two different languages.
Developed out of industry need, the open rich media mobile advertising (ORMMA) draft was created as an
initiative to standardize the way mobile rich media ads are displayed across various platforms. There are other SDK
providers in the space that have their own solutions. To name just a few, there are Apple's iAds, Google's AdMob,
Medialets, Millennial Media, Opera's AdMarvel and RadiumOne. It's easy to imagine how much more fragmentation
this adds. Without a standard there's no way to provide scale in a media buy or development! Mobile rich media
ad interface definition (MRAID), the JavaScript API endorsed by the IAB, is based strongly off the learnings and
developments in the ORMMA initiative. MRAID is a pure JavaScript-based API that communicates with publishers'
applications in an approach similar to ORMMA's, but it is much simpler in that it exists only to provide a few levels
of functionality in all mobile rich media ads. Last of all, the Mobile Rising Stars are formats developed by industry
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