Why Flash Movies Don’t Help Web Marketing

March 24th, 2011 by Search Influence Alumni

The number one rule in marketing is staying current.  To show that your product matters to a customer and help make the sale, you need to keep track of trends, impress with technology, and give your target demographic enough reasons to buy your product.  One effective way to wow people is Flash.

Flash technology has been in use in websites as a way to provide visual and audio interactivity on a website. Great Flash movies engage users and trigger their curiosity. What would happen if a Flash user clicks on a button or drags an icon on the page? Flash movies can answer that question.

While Flash is able to capture a user’s interest, the first step is driving users to the site. There are some problems with Flash affecting optimization. Here are some of them:

  • Flash provides no beneficial information for crawlers
    To install a Flash movie on a webpage, the file can be put in an EMBED or OBJECT tag . Regardless of the choice, the code itself offers no support for search engine optimization.

    The lack of juice becomes a problem on sites that rely heavily on Flash and lack content. Sites with little else besides the movie file are missing out on additional ways to increase their web presence. While off-page optimization (social linking, articles, etc.) is an option, on-page optimization is more reliable than off-page optimization since the domain owner has control over what gets placed on the page.

  • Flash is not 100% cross platform compatible While Flash is installable on a variety of browsers, it does not work on many mobile browsers. Since system memory is more limited on mobile devices, adding some way to translate Flash would consume too many resources. Flash also has its programming interfaces blocked by Apple products, preventing access to the necessary code to make the movies work on the extremely popular Iphone and Ipad products.
    Source: Reticulating — Flickr

    I’ll stop for a minute and provide a counterexample – Youtube. Normally, Youtube provides its videos in Flash format for viewing. Despite Flash’s limitation on mobile devices, Youtube still works on them. The reason? HTML5. While HTML5 can play the animations designed in Flash, it does not support the interactivity of Flash. That means that Flash through HTML will be a strictly visual experience.

  • Some target demographics don’t know about Flash There are technologically challenged people in the world today. If you’ve ever worked in customer service or helped an older family member with a computer problem, you know what I’m talking about.

    As far as they know, Flash could be a computer virus. Or something good for their computer. Or some form of scam.

    Because these people are uneducated about the technology, they may not decide to install the program. Without the program, they will not see the video and miss out on the marketing. While providing a non-Flash version on a page is an option, the downgraded version will lack the audiovisual and interactive capabilities of a full-fledged Flash version.

Some tips on using Flash without hindering optimization:

  • Don’t offer a non-Flash version, redirect to one. Doing so means the user has less clicking to do and can be exposed to marketing more quickly. On non-Flash pages, offer the option to increase the viewing experience with Flash if the user chooses so.
  • Use Flash to do things regular HTML/CSS can’t. Good example – HTML and CSS can handle basic navigation. No need to make fancy menus when HTML/CSS is just as capable. Menus are also a good source of keywords on a page, so don’t deny the crawler the keywords it loves with a Flash menu. Reserve Flash to create unique experiences for the site viewer.
  • Don’t skimp on content. Site content can provide engine for search engine optimization. Flash movies provide no value to optimization, so use non-Flash content to help out.

Remember, Flash should be used as a complement to a website and not as the website itself. All of the pretty effects and animations mean nothing if there is no person to view it.