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Bandwidth implications with Flash-based video ads

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May. 24th, 2006 | 02:19 am

Google announced yesterday they'll be introducing video ads on their AdSense network. When the story hit Slashdot, them kids freaked out. "OMG! Video ads?! My bandwidth!!! FLASH IS EVIL!!!"

I've posted a response to one of the threads to help clear up misconceptions regarding bandwidth implications with such Flash-based video ads. For posterity's sake, I'll repeat it here.

There are three ways to deliver video in Flash:

  1. Embedding the video directly into the SWF file
  2. Downloading the FLV file over HTTP
  3. Streaming the video over RTMP (FMS or FVSS)

Of these, the first one is recommended only for extremely small video clips (5 seconds or less), because embedding the video into the SWF, aside from providing poor quality playback, also bloats the size of the SWF file.

The other two have their pros and cons each, but they have one thing in common: video is downloaded only when requested. Streaming (option 3) has the additional advantage of requesting video frame-by-frame, whereas in the case of HTTP download, the entire file is requested at once (though the download can be aborted at any point during playback).

So, take a chill pill. The world is not coming to an end. If you don't want to see the ads, don't click on the play button.

For more on Flash video, check out devnet.

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