PDFs with Adverts?

Another from Steve’s blog…

Another company is getting into the trackable ads game: Adobe. They’ve announced a new product: PDF files with ads. Publishers can upload PDF files to Adobe’s web site; the files will be modified to display ads via Yahoo!’s advertising network. When the PDF file is viewed, “contextual ads are dynamically matched to the content of the document.” The ads are displayed in a sidebar; they aren’t printed, and don’t obscure the content of the document.

There is one bright spot: at least in the current version, users are shown a “network connection dialog” before any ads are retrieved. If you say “no”, you won’t see the ads and you won’t be tracked. You can even select “Remember my action”. Frankly, I suspect that that won’t last; given a choice, most people will decline to see ads. Time will tell; for now, I applaud Adobe for including that feature.

Another interesting question is what the ads will be like. Today, they’re restricted to text. Adobe says, though, that images and graphics will be implemented. They also note that the ads may include Javascript, at the discretion of the advertiser; that in turn may mean that there can be pop-ups.

I remember PostScript. I remember the NeWS wars. I remember people telling me that HTML would be supplanted by PDF. Seems that some at Adobe still think they can own the rendering language, and thence the browser, and thence the Web…

In the future, people won’t care so much about “pages”; sales of Word Processor software will decline dramatically. Page-oriented formats will fade like punchcards did. We won’t go paperless, though there will be much less of it.

But I have made this point already

5 Replies to “PDFs with Adverts?”

  1. Isn’t the completely trivial fix for this, to just set your firewall to block any outgoing connections to Yahoo? Or are Adobe under the Emperor’s-new-clothes delusion that the user isn’t in control of their computer?

  2. >block any outgoing connections to Yahoo?

    More fundamental than that – aside from the potential damage to people who use Yahoo services – why is it something you should work around?

    If somebody metaphorically parks in your driveway, do you work around them and paint their vehicle to match your landscaping, or do you get their car removed?

  3. >Another solution would be to use a PDF viewer that doesn’t implement this functionality

    I direct my learned friend’s attention to the response I provided to the honourable Mr Walker.

    Isn’t your suggestion exactly the excuse which Microsoft was using to excuse themselves from hardwiring IE into a fundamental part of XP during the anti-trust litigation?

    “Other browsers are available.”

    And didn’t we all argue that it was hogwash and 90% of the userbase was too clueless to install Mozilla, now Firefox?

    How can we ignore that now?

  4. I guess I wasn’t thinking of Windows users. I’ve not had to use the Adobe PDF readers for, umm, many years now, so I forget they are relevant to some people.

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