This change in Chrome first showed up in a June 4 Google Adwords blog posting about a new setting in the browser that affected Flash content. In the post, Google wrote that it was "designed to increase page-load speed and reduce power consumption by pausing certain plugin content, including many Flash ads."
Google also noted in the post, "As soon as September, this setting will be turned on by default so Chrome users can enjoy faster performance and view more content before charging their batteries."
September has arrived.
Conceptually, this is very similar to a feature Apple uses in Safari. Flash is blocked from autoplaying content, and a "power saving" button requires a click to activate Flash.
The feature already exists in Chrome. It can be switched on by opening "advanced settings," under "content settings," then choosing the "detect and run important plugin content" option. Now it will be on by default.
Chrome won't pause all Flash content with this action. Flash video will not be paused, because it is considered "important," but the Flash items that surround that video -- which are usually ads -- will be paused.
Google's true motivation in this move may not be faster performance and better battery life -- not those.
The rise of malvertising attacks, in which malicious code can be injected into a user’s machine simply by viewing an image, that were using Flash as an entry vector undoubtedly played a part in this.
Google's revenues come from ads. Anything that might cause users not to view them or click on them hits it right in its bottom line. Consequently, the company views the Flash problem as a serious one, and it has taken some serious action to mitigate it.
Google has been fairly open about giving advertisers a way around Flash.
For example, AdWords can convert Flash to HTML5 code. As Google put it, "Eligible Flash campaigns, both existing and new, are now automatically converted to HTML5 when uploaded through AdWords, AdWords Editor, and many 3rd party tools."
There are free tools to allow pre-upload testing to see if an ad can be automatically converted.
Google will also encourage advertiser creation of HTML5 code with supported tools for this purpose.
Google Web Designer is one of these tools that work directly with the Google Display Network. Google has also provided non-Flash templates for use by advertisers.
Larry Loeb has written for many of the last century's major "dead tree" computer magazines, having been, among other things, a consulting editor for BYTE magazine and senior editor for the launch of WebWeek. He has written a book on the Secure Electronic Transaction Internet ... View Full Bio
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