Robert Hansen has a paper up at SecTheory… I heard about it from Dan Goodin at The Register, as “Study spanks Adobe Flash for abuses of power”. Robert attempted to measure electrical power consumption of different types of webpages, and found that ad-blocking software reduced battery drain by approximately 25% on his test machine.
(The paper is lengthy, but I don’t think he described how he configured his Adblock Plus, which would have a significant impact on what the final numbers might actually mean.)
It’s certainly possible that ads delivered as SWF could be piggy. Some browsers slow down CPU access by background tabs, in part because of such concerns. Adobe hasn’t installed framerate chokes for the content you make, and advertising publishers have general guidelines for not being piggy. But considering that many popular webpages never stop loading due to the multitude of third-party content requests, it’s definitely possible that some of the advertising on those pages could be increasing your CPU’s general load to measurable degree.
I don’t know how to entice people to follow Postel’s Law, whether in SWF or in text… if you’ve got reactions, thoughts, I’d appreciate hearing them, thanks.