Connecting the dots between what Yahoo! and Adobe and Google are doing

Today, CNet’s reports that Yahoo and Adobe are bringing pay-per-click ads to Adobe’s Portable Document Format (so that’s what PDF stands for) so that “publishers can serve up ads inside PDFs distributed on Web sites and over e-mail that are contextually relevant to the content.”

Now flashback to last week when I pointed to this report about a patent granted to Google for “customizing content and advertisements in a publication.”

So, just to make this a little less complicated:

1. In the works, there’s a way to embed “contextually relevant” ads from Yahoo! in a PDF document.

2. Google has a just been granted a patent to do something that sounds — in theory, at least — very similar, and can even be construed to mean that the ads will not only be relevant to editorial context, but can also be relevant to the person receiving the document.

3. While PDFs are perhaps best known by consumers as something they view with a computer, the graphics and printing industries now use a version of the format called PDF/X-1a as a “standard file format specifically designed for the blind exchange of final print-ready pages.” In other words, magazine publishers and printers use a professional form of PDFs to print nearly everything these days.

4. PDFs are eBooks that can be read in eBook readers like the Kindle or the iRex iLiad.

5. Google (while its patent implies there’s something more than just collecting content and mashing-up something to a PDF file, nonetheless, has a pretty impressive model for doing just that with the Google Book Search reader. For example, look at the top, right corner of this public domain version of Edith Wharton’s novel, Summer. See that little link that says “Download PDF 6.1 M?” If you click it, Google will convert the book you can read online into a PDF with which you can print to paper or e-mail to your Kindle or (with a bit of work) some giant printer can throw it on a web press.

6. Despite people like me believing PDFs were on their way out a decade ago, apparently, they are digital cockroaches that will survive in one form or another forever — for both online and offline media.

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