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Google to ad makers: Code once, display everywhere

The days of Flash-based ads could be numbered, thanks to Google's new, free Web Designer tool to help ad makers build in HTML5.

Google Web Designer beta.

Google wants to replace annoying, blinking Flash ads on the Web with annoying, blinking HTML5 ads, and it's built a new tool to help ad makers do just that.

The free beta of Google Web Designer (download) lets ad makers build animated HTML5 ads with what Google calls "a robust yet intuitive set of design tools." The tool works with DoubleClick and AdMob, and can be published to any generic environment.

Although the tool builds ads visually, you can see and edit the code behind your designs, with changes reflected immediately. Google Web Designer itself updates automatically, and by making it free, Google is looking to compete with paid ad-building tools such as Adobe Edge.

There are several benefits to replacing Flash with HTML5, but one of the biggest is that Flash doesn't, and probably won't ever, run on iOS. Even though most Android devices can handle Flash at this point, Google wants to make it as easy as possible for designers to make their ads, and that means coding them for the most universal platform available.

Google commissioned a study that it says proves that ad campaigns will become increasingly important on mobile in the coming year, but that mobile ad makers lacked a unified design tool to rely on.

Google is clearly eager to get ad makers using HTML5 sooner rather than later. Even though the tool is only in beta, it's launching with a Getting Started guide, user forum, and the requisite Google+ page.

Google Web Designer follows two recent moves by the company to make building online ads easier: DoubleClick Studio Layouts for HTML5 and Ready Creatives in AdWords were announced in the past two months.