This letter was supported and co-signed by elite publishers including AOL, Conde Nast, Forbes and Time Inc. As an unabashed evangelist for HTML5, I was happy to see these powerful and influential media companies throw their weight behind the IAB to catalyze and standardize rich, enjoyable and highly measurable ad campaigns that work across all devices, browsers, placements and sizes responsively. HTML5 will make mobile as meaningful and measurable as other channels and will truly facilitate integrated cross-channel digital marketing, thereby removing the barriers and inefficiency created by retrofit desktop technologies and the limitations of flash-based digital ads.
However, the momentum created a few months ago will dissipate unless the publishing industry fully puts their money—as well as priorities, resources and commitment—where their mouths are. It’s crucial that publishers take the steps towards HTML5 implementation now, as brands are pushing back on an increasing number of backups served to new devices. As publishers, if you’re paying attention, you know an industry-wide shift is imminent and you want to be on board, but no one is telling you how.
Breathe easy. The task is surmountable with proper knowledge and a plan.
Internal education on the benefits of HTML5 and its features is a vital first step in the switchover process. The top-down implementation of this education will be important when thinking through process changes for publisher production teams moving to a cross-platform methodology. Ad production teams have had 15+ years to build habits, find work-arounds, and build workflows that get creative out the door in a timely manner. It’s important to find ways to fit HTML5 into current workflows rather than the other way around. Using tools and libraries with a similar interface or coding style can greatly reduce the amount of time it takes for a team to adopt a new technology. If a designer or developer can be shown equivalency rather than an entirely updated tool, it will be simpler for them to update their skill sets to modern standards. Production managers will want to research as many tools and technologies as necessary to ensure that this education process is a smooth transition rather than a rough upheaval.
All this education and transition will have no effect, however, if your inventory is still being sold as separate, independent, line items.
Ads will only run cross-platform in a meaningful and effective way if the property they are running on has been built with the same thought process. Whether the iteration is a desktop site, tablet app, mobile site, or anything in between, cohesive UI and UX are required to deliver a brand message that will have the same appeal across multiple platforms. With a strategy like this, it is easy to start selling your property as an audience again. The audience that visits on a desktop browser at work are the same people that read your content on a phone while commuting and on an iPad while on the couch.
If you can reach the same people with the same content and the same brand message across multiple devices, you will generate the most powerful impact for your media brand. And that is only possible through the power of HTML5.