Mobile Advertising: Back to the Browser


safari_smallADOTAS – It’s no surprise that Apple has dropped the ball in creating and delivering iAds — they shouldn’t have entered the creative space in the first place.

When Apple announced that they would be exclusively creating iAds for clients, most industry insiders were skeptical. Turns out they were right, as the result has been delayed ads, delayed campaign rollouts and a slew of dissatisfied customers.

Since this topic seems to be a “We told you so” moment, we as an industry should focus on alternative means to delivering a powerful advertising and brand experience through new mobile devices. There is another way advertisers can get quality, rich-media advertising compatible with all popular devices (including iPhones, iPads, Androids and tablets), without Flash and without Apple.

The answer is simple, and yet many have overlooked it as a powerful vehicle for delivering advertisements: the browser. The fact that Apple’s mobile Safari browser has dominated the market should make us all see the magnitude of what this approach could mean — billions of impressions, without having to download an app.

Blasphemy, I know, but I’m saying it… it’s possible to distribute great content outside the world of apps and plug-ins. With that being said, the alternative — and logical next step in mobile advertising — is to build HTML5 advertisements to run “in-browser,” not within apps. We’ve seen and heard about the HTML5 video alternative to Flash, but this article is more about how HTML5 will affect advertising and rich-media.

Just like any technology option, the pros and cons of the technology need to be considered when deciding on what to deploy based on the target device, intended audience and environment. At Glow Interactive, we consider ourselves technologists with a creative bent, so we like to embrace all the latest and greatest options and see what we can do with them.

Given our experience in working with HTML5 and other technologies, these are what we at Glow see as the main pros and cons of HTML5:


  • The technology is built off existing web development standards that have been around for a long time – ultimately shortening the time-to-market and need to learn new technology
  • An isolated and controlled browser and operating system (OS) environment drastically reduces quality assurance (QA) time and development
  • HTML5 offers an alternative to static ads left behind because a user doesn’t have Flash, and with Apple’s devices can’t acquire it
  • The rich-media ads are cheaper to develop than iAds and don’t require Apple’s involvement or approval process, which could mean the difference to a brand being first or following its competitors
  • Fluid, Flash-like experiences can be achieved with ease


  • Ads would be less immersive, as in-app ads command attention as they are user-initiated with a “lean-forward” approach to consumer advertising
  • In-browser ads can be easily overlooked if consumers don’t know what to be looking for
  • Purchasing power seamlessly integrated within the advertisement isn’t possible in this configuration
  • Although HTML5 is gaining momentum, not all ad-serving platforms and publishers support the delivery of these types of ads (yet)

As mentioned earlier, we developed this list of pros and cons to be fair and open about the possibilities on the table. In order to experience an advertisement built in this environment, just fire up your mobile Safari browser and point it to this advertisement.

This advertisement is a prime example of a rich HTML5 experience replete with videos, animation and content. It takes advantage of touch gestures by allowing users to spin the navigation with their finger, and it functions very much like a Flash banner that you would normally see in a desktop browser. No more static alt-images left behind in an environment that is worthy of attention!

The unit — created for the television network Syfy ran exclusively on The New York Times in conjunction with the premiere of Syfy’s smash hit “Warehouse 13,” the most watched series in channel history — was served up by EyeWonder and developed by Glow Interactive.

So the next time you are considering rich mobile advertising, consider an HTML5 banner. We think it provides a solid alternative experience and you won’t be waiting around, watching competitors beat you to the punch.


  1. Peter,
    Agree with you almost on all counts. Except that one can run HTML5 ads in app as well, with all the benefits of Pros you mention yet without any Cons. Please check out the rich media advertising platform offered by Crisp Wireless. Our HTML5 ads run on mobile web, desktop Web, and in-app. In short, agencies can create one interactive and engaging ad and deliver it anywhere, with unified reporting to boot.

    CEO, Crisp Wireless

  2. Agree with you wholeheartedly. And if you develop a web site / banner strategy it will work automatically on loads of other devices (Androis etc.) so people can spread your message with twitter etc. (no need for app download).

    One point: You say:”Purchasing power seamlessly integrated within the advertisement isn’t possible in this configuration”

    But in fact you have more flexibility with browser embedded responses. You can use Bango or other payment services to collect money – on the business terms you decide. With in-App stuff you have to obey the rules of Apple which are extremely restrictive on payment options.

  3. Peter,

    Great article. Delivering rich ads in the mobile web browser is the next wave of mobile advertising. To serve advertisers, Greystripe has launched support for its full range of rich media ads in the mobile browser in addition to its cross platform application support. We enable brands and agencies to create an ad once and deliver it across apps and mobile websites. Further, using our Lightning Technology, ads can be developed using existing Flash tools or HTML5 and delivered across platforms including iPhones, iPads and all Android devices.

    Director of Marketing, Greystripe


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