Using Flash ads in AdWords

As the harveyline website develops I try to find ways to promote it. I pay Mr. Google for advertising through AdWords. When, and if, I think I understand the complexities of AdWords I might post something on this blog.

AdWords includes the option to use animated ads, made in Flash. This post summarises some of my experiences using SWFs in AdWords.

Google has a policy document on image ads here:

http://adwords.google.com/support/aw/bin/static.py?hl=en-uk&topic=28431&guide=28427&page=guide.cs

And some information here:

http://adwords.google.com/support/aw/bin/answer.py?hl=en-uk&answer=26938

Common issues with failure of the Flash ad are:

  • animation too long, 30 seconds is the maximum permitted
  • animation not halting (i.e. any background animation should stop)
  • not implementing ‘clickTAG’ correctly

The ‘clickTAG’ is the tracking code assigned by Google to an individual ad.

You can make Flash ads in AS3 or AS2, but the code is different.

Minimal code for AS2 on timeline:

var clickTag:String = "";

var mouseListener:Object = new Object();
Mouse.addListener(mouseListener);

mouseListener.onMouseDown = function() {
getURL(clickTAG, "_blank");
};

Minimal code for AS3 document Class
package
{
import flash.display.MovieClip;
import flash.events.MouseEvent;
import flash.net.URLRequest;
import flash.net.navigateToURL;

public class MedBox extends MovieClip
{
public var clickTAG:String;

public function MedBox()
{
// attach listener to a button
butt.addEventListener(MouseEvent.CLICK, Nav);
}
private function Nav(event:MouseEvent):void
{
navigateToURL(new URLRequest(this.loaderInfo.parameters.clickTAG), "_blank");
}
}
}

I am using ‘this’ rather than _root, but either will work.

The script that loads the SWF ad to the web page passes the URL for the target page (your web page) to ‘clickTAG’ as a name-value pair. The loaderInfo property of the display object traffics the variable for clickTAG through its’ parameters property.

You can publish the ad to any Flash player version from 4 to 10 inclusive.

AdWords will reject the SWF if it includes any random number generation. Some 3rd party tweening classes include random numbers.

Although many users are familiar with ads where the entire image will act as a button, some are not. To avoid the issue of “mystery meat” navigation, make the clickable button obvious.

The policy document includes these words:

“AdWords does not allow the specific tracking of user interactions that don’t involve clicks.”

Such as View-through tracking, Key-modifier tracking and Mouse location tracking.

I must confess I was not able to find out much information on these. Most sites I found simply regurgitate the text from the Google policy page. Mouse tracking is akin to 3rd party products such as ‘clictale’ where it is possible to track the visitors activity as they view the page. View-through is a technique used by Google to track how a visitor views the ad before they click it

So, keep it simple, the only events the SWF should respond to are mouse.CLICK events to trigger the navigation to your chosen target page.

It is possible to load additional content at runtime, such as images or SWFs, although I have not tried it with ads.

To date, it is not possible to test the Flash ad in the ad testing tool. It seems the only option is to use the placement report to determine on which sites the ad appears and view it there.

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