October 3, 2010

The #1 reason why you shouldn’t include animated Flash ads on your website is because users hate them.  This is because they very rarely provide more value than they capture.  However, in this respect, the are a useful pointer to who is the customer and who is the product:

If you’re not paying for it, you’re not the customer; you’re the product being sold”

blue_beetle on MetaFilter

It turns out, they can even be a security threat:

Trade Me virus affects thousands

(by the way, the Flash ad embedded in the middle of that article on the NZ Herald site today is ironic – hopefully APN have been more careful in vetting advertisers than Trade Me !)

What can you do?

I’ve recently (and finally!) installed a Flash blocker in my browser.  This means that Flash components in web pages only load when I explicitly click on them.  It’s not only removes an annoying distraction from many of the sites I visit regularly, and has made my web browser much more stable, it has noticeably increased page load speeds (not especially surprising given that ads are often the biggest components on a web page).  So far I’ve found very few websites which require Flash to be enabled in order to be useful.

Installing something like this is not as difficult as it might sound.  Here are some links for the most popular browsers:

Happy browsing!