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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 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.

"It's okay. The scenarios aren't that clear. But it's good looking. [Steve Jobs] does good design, and [the iPad] is absolutely a good example of that." -- Bill Gates on the Apple iPad
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