Ad-Based PDFs? No Thanks!

by PocketGoddess on December 10, 2007

I ran across this little gem a couple of weeks ago and forgot to post about it–or maybe I just needed a cooling off period. It seems that Yahoo and Adobe are now working together to put advertisements into PDF files. Evidently the current plan is somewhat unobtrusive, in that the ads will appear in a sidebar and will not change the original text or layout of the PDF, though when the file is open it will automatically connect to an ad server to download advertisements (if an Internet connection is available, of course).
I’m horrified because I’m starting to glimpse that ad-infested future (foretold by some sci fi story I can’t remember the name of at the moment) in which *every* waking moment and every surface is simply filled with advertising from which you cannot escape. I understand the role of advertising, and the necessity for it, but this idea to insert advertising into PDFs really bothers me. Until this initiative came along, I knew that any PDF I downloaded was generally free of advertising unless it happened to be an advertisement–a product spec sheet, for example. Unless the publishers using this service identify the type of download before I click–by calling it an “ad-supported PDF” or something similar–I’ll never know exactly what I’ll get, or whether the file will magically try to connect to some ad server without asking for permission.
I think that’s what bothers me the most; after all I have a few little Google ads on my site here. I’ve never considered them to be all that obtrusive though, and I do expect to find ads here and there–around the web, in news feeds, and from commercial mailing lists I’ve joined for my favorite brands and products. But if I’m using my bandwidth to download a file and store it on my hard drive, I don’t expect it to be full of ads–and when this service finally comes about I’ll be a lot choosier when I think about downloading PDFs I might be interested in reading. If they’re full of ads, I’ll be saying “No thanks.”

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