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Coming soon to a PDF near you -- live advertisements

Many internet users, particularly those in research related fields, spend large amounts of time perusing PDFs that make up much of the internet's vast online resources.  Now these helpful documents may have a new friend, in the form of live internet ads, thanks to a partnership between Yahoo and Adobe.

Yahoo, which has been aggressively looking to expand its advertising resources to compete with rival Google, can count this one as a real victory.  Before today only static ads were possible in PDF.

The new service is being pushed by the Ads for Adobe PDF powered by Yahoo campaign, announced today.

While the ads may bring a bothersome annoyance to some previously ad-free documents, which had previously been free of advertisements, they may have beneficial effects as well.  Scientific journals may elect to put their content online for free, subsidized by advertisement revenue.  The benefits or merits of this are debatable, but many will feel that the more available information, the better.

The service is entering its beta phase.  Adobe has announced Yahoo is its exclusive ad provider at least for the beta phase, but has not announced when the beta phase will end or if it will open up to other advertisers, such as Google.

All PDF content providers will have to do to participate is upload their documents to an Adobe/Yahoo portal and the documents will be retrofitted with embed ads and returned to the publisher.  Adobe is designing APIs to simplify this process and make it extremely easy and convenient for content publishers.

Ads will appear on an adjacent panel, so won't interfere with the document itself.  The ads will not interfere with document printing, either.  When a user clicks one it will launch a new browser window.  The service currently only supports pay-per-click text ads, but it is planning on expanding to graphical and rich media ads. 

Usage is free for publishers, who can click here to sign up for the beta program.  Publishers can block up to 200 urls they don't want advertising in their PDF.

Yahoo and Adobe's movie is another business deal which will leave some thrilled at the prospect of new content and new revenue, but others fearful of abuse and inconvenience.

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By Chris Peredun on 11/29/2007 4:03:54 PM , Rating: 5
I also wonder how long it will take before a third-party PDF reader comes out that just blatantly ignores the ad panel.

By Devenish on 11/29/2007 4:26:59 PM , Rating: 3
I bet Microsoft/Google are rushing out a search toolbar to do just that.

RE: I wonder if AdBlock and FlashBlock will still work
By RyanM on 11/29/2007 5:03:28 PM , Rating: 4
I guarantee you Foxit Reader and other 3rd party apps are all over this like white on rice.

By Hoser McMoose on 11/29/2007 6:09:18 PM , Rating: 3
Just to follow-up on this, anyone who hasn't tried Foxit Reader yet, I'd HIGHLY recommend it!

It reads probably 99%+ of all PDF files perfectly and does so WITHOUT all the PITA problems that Acrobat Reader has. It's much smaller, lighter and faster than Acrobat but still has basically all the same features for displaying and reading documents.

By GeorgeOrwell on 11/29/2007 6:35:38 PM , Rating: 5
Foxit is great for occasional reading of PDF documents, especially on a system that you don't want to install Adobe Acrobat on, but Foxit's rendering engine is far inferior to Adobe's.

In practice, PDF files look much more appealing when rendered by Adobe Acrobat. Fonts are smoother, text flows better, etc.

Maybe in the future Foxit will offer quality visual rendering. But that day is not today. Unfortunately as Acrobat (Adobe's spyware beachhead) is one thing I would love to uninstall forever.

By fleshconsumed on 11/30/2007 7:43:12 AM , Rating: 2
I see zero difference in FoxIt and Adobe rendering of PDF documents.

The only reason to keep Adobe installed is for compatibility. Unfortunately FoxIt still suffers in this regard and won't render certain PDF documents properly, additionally, some PDFs, such as from INS/IRS are better handled by Adobe. However, if you don't need extended functionality FoxIt is identical in rendering to Adobe and is magnitudes quicker.

By Anonymous Freak on 11/29/2007 10:09:57 PM , Rating: 2
What's up with "white on rice"? I like brown rice, thank you very much.


By Oregonian2 on 11/29/2007 5:15:58 PM , Rating: 2
Just what I was thinking. Alternatively, I think one might be able to use one's firewall (ZoneAlarm, etc) to not allow Adobe Reader to access the internet (assuming PDFs were downloaded first even if just to a temp-file by a browser). If that doesn't work, maybe a third party program that watches and is a specialized adblocker of sorts.

By Polynikes on 11/29/2007 5:50:33 PM , Rating: 3
Luckily, there's the open source community. I'm sure they'll be all over this.

By Talcite on 11/30/2007 12:43:52 AM , Rating: 2
My thoughts EXACTLY.

I'm so glad that Evince would never allow the use of ads in the documents.

By slashbinslashbash on 11/29/2007 6:56:26 PM , Rating: 2
I wonder if Apple will play along with Preview. I haven't used Acrobat to view PDF's in years, although I've got the full version to edit the occasional PDF for my work.

By mmntech on 11/29/2007 9:45:24 PM , Rating: 3
According to Wikipedia, .PDF is an open standard. It's one of the reasons it can be included in programs like OpenOffice without them being sued for patent infringement. I doubt Apple would put Yahoo ads in Preview. Apple seems to prefer Google.

I use Acrobat Reader on my PC but it's definitely a bloated program. It loads slowly and runs slowly and locks up Firefox while it drags its but trying to load PDF files in browser. I'm not surprised by this move. This seems to be the trend for closed source freeware programs. Well, we can't ignore that advertising is being sneaked into some payware software as well. *cough* EA.

By Anonymous Freak on 11/29/2007 10:11:04 PM , Rating: 2
While Apple seems to prefer Google (well, the CEO of Google is on Apple's board of directors...) they are happy to work with Yahoo, as well. (See: iPhone.)

By GeorgeOrwell on 11/29/2007 10:54:24 PM , Rating: 2
PDF has begun the process this year, 2007, of becoming a bona fide open standard vs. an Adobe owned published specification.

It is not, however, the reason it can be included in Open Office. That is merely because Adobe supports competitors of Microsoft. When Microsoft was going to add PDF support into Microsoft Office, Adobe threatened to sue them and bring anti-trust charges against them.

There is a very real chance that PDF and Microsoft's "OpenXML" will be synonymous in that they are proprietary formats that are being pushed into standards groups just to get the "open standard" rubber stamp.

Likely there will always be "Adobe PDF" and "Open PDF", the latter being a impoverished low functionality format that does not provide much utility and doesn't work properly with "Adobe PDF".

Remember, even if PDF were an open standard, it does not preclude encrypted documents with encrypted ad containers and unlock codes that you need to download from Adobe in order to open documents. Nor does it mean that such a system could not be hacked.

Chris...It's already here...
By Tim Thorpe on 11/29/2007 4:18:09 PM , Rating: 5
for an extremely light weight PDF viewer use Sumatra PDF viewer, it's free, it's open source, its extremely simple and small. I carry it on my flash drive every where I go because it doesn't require installation, it just works.

If I need any semi advanced features that sumatra doesn't offer then I use foxit reader although I find getting my hands on just the free reader from their site is becoming more and more difficult.

Sumatra PDF:
Foxit Reader (Direct Download):

RE: Chris...It's already here...
By Basilisk on 11/29/2007 6:45:36 PM , Rating: 2
'Just tried Sumatra: after sampling two documents, I'm grinning ear-to-ear over its start-up speed. I do miss the Find (text) function, but I haven't seen any faults in its displays.

I'm another person who groans every time he starts up an Adobe product (Acrobat or PhotoShop) -- it's beyond my grasp how their products can be such sluggards year after year. Now I've set Sumatra as my PDF standard reader. Thanks for the URL.

RE: Chris...It's already here...
By RjBass on 11/29/2007 11:19:15 PM , Rating: 2
For those that don't like PhotoShop their is always the open source photo editing software known as The Gimp.

RE: Chris...It's already here...
By GeorgeOrwell on 11/29/2007 8:18:34 PM , Rating: 2
Sumatra, like Foxit, does not render well. It does not even use the right fonts to draw the document.

So, yes, it is great for a small no-install viewer. But to view PDF documents in high-fidelity, there still is no substitute for Adobe Acrobat that I am aware of.

I should mention that the OS X PDF viewer is pretty good, but it is still not really there. But it is the closest of the non-Adobe viewers.

RE: Chris...It's already here...
By smitty3268 on 11/30/2007 1:31:50 AM , Rating: 2
Sumatra and Foxit both use the same underlying PDF rendering engine, called Poppler, that basically all open source programs are using or moving to. So all of the free alternatives are going to render the documents pretty much the same.

RE: Chris...It's already here...
By Haven Bartton on 11/30/2007 2:40:02 AM , Rating: 2
Screenshots anyone? I'm curious about this, as the point of PDFs is for sending out documents and ensuring that everyone sees them the exact same way (and they are usually unalterable).

RE: Chris...It's already here...
By smitty3268 on 11/30/2007 2:57:16 AM , Rating: 2
The PDF itself is just a string of 1s and 0s, it's the softwares responsibility to make sure it looks the same everywhere. Just look at web browsers to see how differently they can interpret and display the same exact document.

That said, I've found poppler to be quite good. I don't view PDFs very often, though, so it's certainly possible I just don't know what I'm missing.

RE: Chris...It's already here...
By Tim Thorpe on 11/30/2007 1:21:22 PM , Rating: 2
give me a link to some complex PDFs that you claim don't render properly so that we can make a fair comparison please.

As If PDFs and Yahoo Didn't Suck Enough Already
By AstroCreep on 11/29/2007 5:12:12 PM , Rating: 3
I'm not a fan of Yahoo; I don't go to their pages and I don't use their IM client. I've also run into issues before where users would install the IE toolbar and it would screw up their browsers.
I'm not a fan of Adobe. The only reason I use PDFs is because they are the world de facto standard for documents. I hate Acrobat Reader (I use Fox-It at home, but we have to use Acrobat Reader at work); it's bloated, it used to keep running in the background if you read a PDF from's just not a nice program (frankly, I really don't like ANY of the apps Adobe makes, but again, they are the 'standard' for the artsy-types).

Great, thanks a lot for this one Adobe, Yahoo, you greedy a-holes. What's next? Is Microsoft going to offer an advertising service to allow people to insert advertisements into Word docs?

By Oregonian2 on 11/29/2007 5:28:32 PM , Rating: 2
Great, thanks a lot for this one Adobe, Yahoo, you greedy a-holes. What's next? Is Microsoft going to offer an advertising service to allow people to insert advertisements into Word docs?

I know you already can put web links to an internet image (ad) into a word document without any problem, as such (and thereby fetch whatever's at that address at the moment when invoking the viewing of it).

Only thing is that "Word" is a source program. One doesn't usually use a word-reader to read .DOC files. One usually uses Word itself in which case you could just click on the ad and hit delete unless the document has restrictions put on it, and I'm not sure how well that works (or how secure it is).

By GeorgeOrwell on 11/29/2007 8:25:25 PM , Rating: 3
To prevent unwanted HTTP access, you may wish to consider installing a HTTP proxy that does not allow any access except through the proxy -- which is protected with a username/password.

You will find, at least with Windows, that your machine suddenly becomes a lot faster. It is amazing how many things you will find are doing various "phone homes".

RE: As If PDFs and Yahoo Didn't Suck Enough Already
By AlexWade on 11/29/2007 6:41:34 PM , Rating: 3
Adobe ruined ColdFusion, Photoshop, Dreamweaver, Flash, and every other Macromedia product. Dreamweaver used to be streamlined, now it is filled with bloatware.

By Ihmemies on 11/29/2007 6:51:29 PM , Rating: 2
Photoshop CS3 is the best Photoshop so far. It's faster than the previous versions, easier to use, customize etc. I don't know about other Adobe software, but Photoshop is simply the best, still after all these years. There is not even a remote alternative for it.

By Murst on 11/30/2007 2:32:34 AM , Rating: 2
Adobe ruined ColdFusion, Photoshop, Dreamweaver, Flash, and every other Macromedia product. Dreamweaver used to be streamlined, now it is filled with bloatware.

I've been doing stuff in ActionScript for a quite a while now, and I just don't see how you can say Adobe ruined Flash. It was broken to begin with.

If Adobe wanted to fix it, it'd probably be easier to start from scratch - which means, it will never happen. Its kinda sad too... the concept is pretty good, but once you get down into some more advanced stuff, the language truly is broken.

PDF gets yet another "feature"
By Parhel on 11/29/2007 4:07:16 PM , Rating: 4
Adobe Acrobat has become so bloated over the last few versions. They need to either stop their Swiss Army knife approach and get back to the basics, or introduce a new reader and format that can be used for just the basics.

Maybe 1 out of 100,000 PDF documents will enable these advertisements, and now every single time anyone loads Acrobat they are going to have to wait just a few more seconds.

RE: PDF gets yet another "feature"
By HighWing on 11/29/2007 4:24:09 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah seriously I try to stay away from PDF documents because the damn reader takes forever to load and uses WAY too many resources just to "read" a document...

By LumbergTech on 11/29/2007 6:43:38 PM , Rating: 2
Scientific journals may elect to put their content online for free, subsidized by advertisement revenue.

doesnt this sound like its going to even further tie money making to scientific research..

Will companies like yahoo try to force them to alter their work for the tradeoff of the revenue from the ads?

RE: um..
By randomwalk16 on 11/29/2007 6:51:28 PM , Rating: 2
Wouldn't it just replace the revenue they get from selling subscriptions to the journal?

I am all for any way I can access scientific journals for free. Right now I have access to a large number of them through my college library, but after I'm out of school I would hate to lose that resource. Its great for getting to the bottom of hyped-up media articles about science...

RE: um..
By GeorgeOrwell on 11/29/2007 8:12:34 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah, it would be so great to have scientific journals beholden to advertising revenue.

I'm sure it would have no impact on the impartiality of the journals.

Because those large companies that own/publish most of the scientific and medical journals, well, they don't care about money, right?

Or maybe, just maybe, we will see a whole lot of articles about the careful research big pharma does... along with some ads for Vioxx, Prandin, and other fine products...

Sheesh. Adobe is as hardcore greedy and evil as a company gets and Yahoo! is the company that is a servant of the Chinese dictatorship. I'm sure their kids will turn out great, too.

By GeorgeOrwell on 11/29/2007 6:45:56 PM , Rating: 3
One must remember that every single "ad" is also used to spy on the user. There is likely greater value in knowing who/when/where opens each document vs. net ad revenue.

Of course, Adobe will lock down the embedded ads using encrypted containers inside of the PDFs to store the ads, even going so far as to lock the opening of the document to the successful opening of the encrypted ad containers.

Non-US anti-spyware companies will be able to check/flag PDFs that contain ads/spyware. But the import of these tools into the US may end forbidden by law. Adobe is very strong in Washington. Like many things, including a number of keyloggers and data stealers, US companies will simply "not detect" spyware-enabled PDFs. Thus all the users/companies running Symantec, McAfee, Trend Micro, etc., will be having their PDF document usage tracked by Adobe/Yahoo!.

Then the only alternative will be something other than Acrobat, perhaps even something other than PDF. Many might say, "it's about time".

By Murst on 11/30/2007 2:44:50 AM , Rating: 2
Well, there's 2 problems with that...

First, the major behavior tracking companies such as doubleclick allow you to opt out of their behavior tracking via ads. The concept is basically the same as the donotcall list.. you sign up, and they're not supposed to track you.

Second... there is no way for adobe to force you to display the ads. You can always block internet access from within acrobat.. in fact, I highly recommend it, as it will never bug you about an upgrade again.

Every single time something comes out that can be abused, people think it will be abused and its the end of the world. I remember when Gmail first came out and how people complained about the ads - saying that Google will read all your email, etc. Its been several years now, and I think the majority of the people will gladly accept google displaying contextual ads while you view your email in exchange for the free email service.

I'm guessing this will evolve into something that's equally beneficial to both advertisers and users, or it will die.

Oh great.
By Symmetriad on 11/29/2007 5:23:57 PM , Rating: 4
I work in litigation support, and PDFs are already fussy enough as it is. If we have to do e-discovery on a bunch of PDFs with embedded ads for some reason, it's just going to make using them that much more difficult.

As much as Adobe's software is geared for professional use, they sure do seem to be making a lot of decisions detrimental to enterprise interests lately (see also: web-based Adobe apps).

By Spivonious on 11/29/2007 4:03:50 PM , Rating: 3
I knew I should have stuck with Acrobat Reader 5.

Ads on the Internet?!
By stepone on 11/29/07, Rating: 0
RE: Ads on the Internet?!
By PWNettle on 11/29/2007 7:00:38 PM , Rating: 2
"Whatever will they think of next?"

Hopefully creative ways to kill themselves.

Advertising is hell bent on ruining everything with their eyesores and intellectually insulting garbage.

I never have liked PDFs. They may be universal but they're clunky and generally painful to use. Adding advertising to them will just make me dislike them even more.

The main thing that's gonna result from this junk is 3rd party viewers getting better to thwart the annoying advertising.

No escape from advertising
By amanojaku on 11/29/2007 8:29:15 PM , Rating: 2
This reminds me of Frederik Pohl's novel "The Merchant's War." When I read it I thought it was hilarious. Six years later I'm crying because it's becoming reality. A dystopian world in which advertising rules and people's lives revolve around what they should buy. Ad-bombs are the next nukes. Say "no" to nukes!

By spluurfg on 11/29/2007 10:50:17 PM , Rating: 2
So Adobe didn't manage to convince enough people to pay a few hundred bucks for the ability to edit PDFs eh? I really thought that business model was a suuuuuuure hit....

A Simple fix..... but what if...
By HighWing on 11/29/2007 4:23:04 PM , Rating: 1
You know with all this talk of embedding dynamic internet ads in objects such as PDF's and the other article on here about doing the same on DVD's, I think it will be interesting to see how this documents and Video's will react when viewing them on a device that is NOT connected to the net.

To put it quite simply, it seems to me that if you don't want to see the ad, all you would have to do is disconnect your net access and then no ad would be viewable.

however, in writing this I can't help but also think this would lead into making it easier to embed virus's in PDF's and anything else that will use this kind of technology.

Dear Adobe
By SiliconAddict on 11/29/07, Rating: 0
By thebrown13 on 11/29/07, Rating: -1
By ebakke on 11/29/2007 6:26:21 PM , Rating: 3
No, it won't.

By HaZaRd2K6 on 11/29/2007 9:20:50 PM , Rating: 2
Well said. I don't think I've viewed a single XPS document in the 3 months that I've been using Vista. Although I'm not a big fan of PDFs either >_>

By Bluestealth on 11/30/2007 1:27:20 PM , Rating: 2
I made an XPS document just for kicks then erased it and put it into a more standard format :)

No reason wasting my time in case one of our computers somehow hadn't got the XPS viewer pushed to them.

While I dislike both PDF and XPS, I would rather someone give me a PDF... since I know I can use that.

"People Don't Respect Confidentiality in This Industry" -- Sony Computer Entertainment of America President and CEO Jack Tretton
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