IAB: Forget Flash, Move to HTML5 for Tablet Ads

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The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) is taking a cold, hard look at the market for advertising on the iPad and other tablet devices, launching a new “Tablet Task Force” and issuing a report on the future of “tabvertising.” (We didn’t come up with it — blame the IAB.) And while some may see the iPad’s lack of Adobe Flash as a potential barrier to advertising on the device, the IAB says that’s easy enough to overcome with a little HTML5.

In its new report on “tabvertising,” the IAB points out a number of different advertising opportunities that are available, including display, search, email, social media, video, websites and apps. While many advertisers may choose to create branded apps or serve ads within apps, the group suggests that marketers start by creating iPad-ready websites instead, since sites can be found in search engines while apps currently cannot be. That said, the IAB expects display advertising on the iPad to be the biggest opportunity, due to how they show up on tablets, as well as new touchscreen capabilities that advertisers can take advantage of.

But while the IAB sees a huge opportunity for advertising on the iPad and other tablet devices, there are certain pitfalls to going after that market. One potential issue is the iPad’s lack of support for Adobe Flash. Many web and video ads today are delivered in the Flash format, but the IAB says that shouldn’t be an issue. On the contrary, the IAB says marketers need only start creating ads that are HTML5-ready:

“[T]he lack of Flash on the iPad has been called the tablet’s Achilles heel. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Flash is incredibly intensive on any computer to run, burning through batteries faster. The programming language HTML5 used by most new browsers, can do almost as much as Flash without the power drain. Advertisers simply need to start creating ads in HTML5, rather than Flash. Many brands have already done this successfully on the iPad with fantastic results.”

Instead, the biggest issue, according to the IAB, is a lack of reach. The iPad has been selling like hotcakes so far, with 500,000 units sold in the U.S. in the first week and more than two million units sold in the first two months it was available. While that’s impressive takeup for a new device, it still represents a small, niche audience in the grand scheme of things.

There’s also the issue of planning and buying. The IAB points out that the Internet “is already a complicated place with many different forms of advertising.” New devices like the iPad only serve to complicate matters further, by introducing a whole new set of ad formats that marketers must take into account. While the report says a lack of consistency with formats across online and tablet ads could act as a barrier to large campaigns, Apple’s introduction of iAds could help to standardize advertising on the iPad.

Related content on GigaOM Pro: How iAd and the iPad Will Change Mobile Marketing (subscription required)

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