Flash Ads 101 – Questions to ask when building a Flash ad.

They are at times the bain of our web surfing experience. They are also a websites bread and butter. Online ads. If you are a starting web designer and someone asks you to produce flash ads for a client.

You’ve never done a flash ad! Don’t panic, It’s easy. You just need to know what questions to ask.What do you need to ask?

Things to ask about:

  • Sizes
  • File Size Max
  • Max Ad Length “Running Time”
  • Flash Player Versions
  • Click Tag Information
  • Backups?


This is the dimensions of the ads. Some of the most common sizes are as follows.

  • 468px by 60px – Banner
  • 728px by 90px – Leaderboard
  • 300px by 250px – Story
  • 160px by 600px – Tower

These are examples and are not applicable to every vendor.

File Size Max

All vendors have a Max File Size they will accept from advertisers. This could be anywhere from 30k to 100k. Ask the vendor what their specs are before you start working. This out of all the tips listed is the most important to you the designer. If you build an awesome ad and discover that you will have the rethink the direction you used because your 20k over the spec. That is the quickest way to turn an ad your proud of into ad you wouldn’t claim if someone paid you too.

Max Ad Length “Running Time”

This refers to the amount of time an ad take to run through its message before repeating. The Microsoft ad network suggests 15 seconds. I never try to go longer than 10 seconds because a viewers attention on the web can be measured in nanoseconds.

Flash Player Versions

Flash has been around for a while now and is up to plugin version 10. If you look at the flash plug-in penetration chart. You can see that the 7, 8 and 9 versions of the Flash Plug-In have penetration rates well into 90 percent. Personally I export for version 8 of the plug-in. Flash 8 was the version that introduced a lot of filters and layering effects. It gives you a lot of creative options and the ability to make custom effects with actionscript. Also having a 98.7 penetration rate doesn’t hurt.

Click Tag Information

In most cases the destination URL is not hard coded into the ad.

Enter the click tag.

The click tag is a bit of code “shown below” that allows the vendor to track the amount of times the ad is clicked and allows the ad server to dynamically tell the browser where to go. This is done for simplicity sake and gives greater flexibility when serving ads. As an example you could use the below bit of Actionscript attached to an invisible button.

on (release) {
if (clickTAG.substr(0,5)=="http:" || clickTAG.substr(0,6) == "https:") {
getURL (clickTAG, "_blank");


As hard as it is to believe some people don’t have flash installed or they are on a iPhone. Many vendors require gif or jpeg backups that will be served if the viewer doesn’t have flash.

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