What does it mean to flatten a font?
A font is converted into an image or outline. As the font is no longer text, no one can highlight, copy or save the text.
Why would we do this?
Couple of reasons. Protect your assets. When a HTML5 ad is created, it’s a package of images, fonts and the html file. It’s quite easy to find the font file, extract the font and use it. When a brand has spent money on licensing fonts or creating their own, it’s an asset for them, so they wouldn’t want anyone to take that font and use them for their own purposes. Flattening fonts means that there is no separate font file so no one can access it.
Maintain your brand style. For digital ads, it’s not such an issue but when working across channels, e.g. print or presentations, if someone doesn’t have the font installed on their computer, the font may automatically change to a standard default and if they don’t notice then those materials will lose the brand style and the layout may get messy.
What if I’ve bought a font license?
Let’s start by understanding what font licenses are. “Fonts are technically considered bits of computer software, and just like any other software you are not supposed to install or use it without a license” (Designshacknet, 2016). Each font provider will have their own licensing arrangements so it’s important to always check that it fits with your project before using or making a purchase. Licenses can be taken for personal use or commercial use and depend on the number of people who will be using the font. Keystone Law has written a guide to understanding font licensing, specifically covering Microsoft and Apple’s regulations about fonts, add to this the multitude of font providers who all have their own rules, it can get confusing.
If you have obtained a license to use a font for all purposes, then you are legally covered to use it in all your ads. However, if you haven’t flattened your fonts, then it’s still easy to access your fonts and for others to use it without your or the font owner’s permission.
Is there any cons if we flatten fonts?
Editing text becomes impossible once it is converted into an image or outline. If the text was flattened, you couldn’t review and amend once an ad was saved. If the text was a tag lines or slogan, this could be more manageable as it won’t change and therefore could be included as a flattened file. This would be harder in large campaigns where there are many ad-sets, or variations based on target audiences, as a flattened font file would have to be created per ad shape so that it fits perfectly. Then someone would have to manually include this in each ad taking up a lot of admin time and using up valuable resources.
If you have invested in custom fonts or expensive licenses, a good way to protect yourself is by flattening fonts in your ads, so that they are not accessed and replicated. The other option is to use standard fonts with open licenses which are common worldwide.
If you want to find out more about flattening fonts or font licenses and how it could affect your ads, ask our team how we solve this issue for our clients.
Fluid Ads takes a deeper look into all things data privacy for the ad industry on both sides of the Atlantic and how it may effect your digital strategy.
As an agency, what’s your approach to upselling to your existing clients? Do you provide solutions that they need based on strategic insight about their business or simply cross-sell on the existing services and products you offer? It’s surprising how many agencies fall into the latter, selling services because it’s what they do.