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Gilbane Advisor 8-26-15 – Gilbane Program and ad-blocking update

Gilbane Conference 2015 program published

Join us in Boston December 1-3.
See the programworkshopsschedulevenue and register.


Maybe the backlash to intrusive web and mobile ads is finally coming. Maybe the combination of distraction, painfully slow page loads, and overly creepy tracking is about force a major change in how digital content is paid for. Then again, maybe most people will just put up with it — many may not even have noticed the gradual deterioration of the web experience. Either way, things are ramping up and this effects everybody. The use of ad-blocking is growing, and Apple’s imminent release of iOS 9 with support for ad-blocking could dramatically increase its use among a highly-prized demographic. We have chosen three of the many recent articles to get you up to speed quickly.

Ad Blockers and the Nuisance at the Heart of the Modern Web

First up, the New York Times’ Farhad Manjoo does a nice job summarizing the major points of view.

Advertising sustains pretty much all the content you enjoy on the web … many of the world’s most useful technologies may never have come about without online advertising. But at the same time, ads and the vast, hidden, data-sucking machinery that they depend on to track and profile you are routinely the most terrible thing about the Internet. … Now, more and more web users are escaping the daily bombardment of online advertising by installing an ad blocker. Read more

The Ethics of Modern Web Ad-blocking

Next, Marco Arment takes a look at the ‘implied’ or ‘implicit’ contract between  publishers / advertisers and content consumers.

There’s no opportunity for disclosure, negotiation, or reconsideration. By following any link, you unwittingly opt into whatever the target site, and any number of embedded scripts from other sites and tracking networks, wants to collect, track, analyze, and sell about you. … That’s why the implied-contract theory is invalid: people aren’t agreeing to write a blank check and give up reasonable expectations of privacy by clicking a link. They can’t even know what the cost of visiting a page will be until they’ve already visited it and paid the price. Read more

Real-World Results of iOS 9 Safari Content Blocking

Even though iOS 9 is not released yet the beta versions have the content blocking feature and developers are building content blocking apps, so it is possible to see the effect on the user experience. Owen Williams has done just that with side-by-side tests of major publisher sites with and without one of the content blocking apps turned on. Note that iOS content blocking capability includes more than just ads. It will be interesting to see the final options for configuring, and how they end up being used.

Content blockers on iOS are a new type of app that’s able to block incoming content before it’s loaded by the system — it provides a list of sites and scripts to the operating system for blocking. Instead of requiring the browser to process what to block as the page loads, it’s performed on a system level before the page loads which increases speed significantly. … The effect of using a content blocker on iOS is, to be honest, something publishers should be deeply afraid of. I don’t really care about advertising actually appearing on sites, I just care about how fast the site itself loads over a constrained connection. Read more

6 Reasons Marketing is Moving In-House

Digital Agencies finds that in the past year there has been a dramatic spike in the number of companies who no longer work with outside marketing agencies — 27 percent, up from 13 percent in the previous year. This continues a trend The Association of National Advertisers first reported in 2013. … SoDA describes this trend as “alarming” … but stops short of fully explaining why it’s happening. After interviewing several ad agency executives and marketing leaders in a diverse group of businesses — pharmaceutical, high-tech, manufacturing, retail, sports, and others — I’ve found a few common themes that could help explain what is going on. Read more

Learning from PDFs

PDF seemed like a temporary diversion from the road to the future of electronic documents to many even when it was new in 1993. By then HTML and many other SGML based applications existed and the potential was clear but it wasn’t until the Mosaic browser was released, also in 1993, that the web revolution grew the legs for mainstream adoption.

In the 90s there was, largely uninformed, competition between PDF and HTML — there have always been important use cases for both. Our understanding and preferences for content consumption will continue to evolve as computing and information technologies change the landscape of options. Michael Andrews takes a thoughtful look at why PDF is still an important component of content strategy.

What can content strategy learn from PDFs? That some people want to interact with words, and HTML content doesn’t offer them good options to do that… The evolution of content experience is far from over, despite the proclamations that the future of content has arrived. Smart, flexible, modular content is powerful. But on the topics that matter most, people want to choose what’s important to them, and not have that decision made for them. Read more

A Visual Introduction to Machine Learning

Just what it says it is and very nicely done. This is the opposite of a typical insipid infographic. See more


Sponsor

Thanks to our hosting provider LuxSci for sponsoring this issue, and for 15 years of great customer service.

luxsci


 

Short takes

Google analyzed their own app interstitial ad and got rid of it. They explain why in Google+: A case study on App Download Interstitials via the Google Webmaster Central Blog

Mobile:2015 UI / UX Trends… A quick look at what and why. via Medium

Useful background info on the evolution of native ads… Native advertising and sponsored content: Research on audience, ethics, effectiveness via Journalist’s Resource

For a little more technical detail content and page load speed see Why Are Web Pages So Slow? via Medium

Without a doubt Companies Need an Option Between Contractor and Employee via HBR.org

As you might imagine this generated lots comments… Theft, Lies, and Facebook Video via Medium

DAM Industry Heat Maps – Market Share and Customer Satisfaction… a handy quick look. via Real Story Group

Web Content Management Round-Up… Summer news in the WCM space. via Digital Clarity Group

About

The Gilbane Advisor curates content for our conference community of content, computing, and digital experience professionals throughout the year. You can also subscribe via our feed.

The Gilbane Conference on Content, Technology, and Customer Experience helps marketers, IT, and business managers integrate content strategies and computing technologies to produce superior customer experiences for all stakeholders.

Adobe introduces Acrobat.com Workspaces

Adobe introduced Acrobat.com Workspaces, a new collaboration space that lets teams inside and outside of organizations work together on projects. With Workspaces, team members can store and organize project content online, and share and manage team access to files helping to eliminate the need to continually e-mail updates. Acrobat.com is a set of hosted services that facilitate internal and external collaboration between individuals and teams. In a few clicks, people can create Workspaces, store and share documents, and convert files to PDF. Teams can also meet in real-time and share their screens using Adobe ConnectNow, or create documents and tables with online office applications, such as Buzzword and Acrobat.com Tables. As with all of the Acrobat.com services, Workspaces are built on the Adobe Flash Platform and operate inside a web browser. Apart from the Adobe Flash Player, no additional software installation is required. Teams can create Shared Workspaces to store and share a set of files related to a project, letting distributed team members work together across times zones and firewalls, with no special file sharing software or IT involvement necessary. Users simply access an online Workspace to review and collaborate on documents. Workspace administration privileges can be assigned to specific team members, to help maintain control over who has what level of access to each project’s documents. Each individual also has their own Personal Workspace on Acrobat.com to store and work on documents before they are ready to be shared with a broader team. Acrobat.com users can create one free Shared Workspace, while Premium Basic subscribers can create 20 Workspaces and Premium Plus subscribers can create an unlimited number of Workspaces. http://blogs.adobe.com/acom

Adlib Software and LORENZ Life Sciences Sign OEM Agreement

Adlib Software and LORENZ Life Sciences announced that they have signed an OEM agreement. Under the terms of the agreement, LORENZ will license and embed Adlib’s ExpressConversion technology into future versions of LORENZ’s docuRender for MS-Word product. Adlib and LORENZ aim to eliminate submission quality concerns and automate and streamline regulatory publishing with submission-ready PDFs delivered through LORENZ’s docuBridge submission management solution. Many life sciences organizations attempt to build document conversion solutions in-house or use systems that are not suited to the rigors of the FDA eCTD (electronic Common Technical Documents) standard. Adlib and LORENZ can accommodate the large number (into the tens of thousands) and types of documents generated in today’s research environments, integrate the solution into an organization’s document workflow and provide the quality and compliance to meet any standard or regulation. http://www.lorenz.cc/, http://www.adlibsoftware.com

Adobe Mobile Products to Ship with Windows Mobile Phones

Adobe Systems Incorporated announced that Microsoft has licensed Adobe Flash Lite software, Adobe’s Flash Player runtime specifically designed for mobile devices, to enable web browsing of Flash Player compatible content within the Internet Explorer Mobile browser in future versions of Microsoft Windows Mobile phones. Microsoft has also licensed Adobe Reader LE software for viewing Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF) documents including email attachments and web content. Both Adobe products will be made available to Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) worldwide, who license Windows Mobile software. Adobe Flash Lite and Reader LE availability for Windows Mobile phones will be confirmed later. http://www.adobe.com

Recosoft Ships PDF2Office Personal v4.0 and PDF2Office Standard v4.0

Recosoft Corporation has started shipping PDF2Office Personal and PDF2Office Standard v4.0 for Windows. DF2Office Personal and Standard v4.0 represents a major upgrade to PDF2Office Personal and Standard v3.0. PDF2Office Personal and Standard v4.0 interface with the Office 2007 product family via the ribbon interface and complies with Windows Vista. Both PDF2Office Personal and Standard contain 200+ new enhancements and improvements. Additionally, PDF2Office Personal and Standard take advantage of modern multi-core processor systems resulting in conversion performance improvement through its client-server architecture. PDF2Office enables you to recover the data stored in PDF documents, making them available for use by anyone. Since PDF2Office interfaces directly with the Microsoft Office family of products it is not necessary to acquire and install additional PDF editing software and tools. PDF2Office Personal and Standard v4.0 now includes the latest PDF Reconstruction v4.0 engine offering enhancements when converting PDF documents; including enhanced table recognition and processing, graphics processing, complex layout and PDF data recognition. Gradients in PDF files are also processed and limited clipping path support have also been introduced. PDF2Office Personal 4.0 and Standard v4.0 are available immediately from $29. USD. http://www.recosoft.com/

Is Adobe Really Going to Mars?

I’m becoming concerned whether Adobe is really serious about Mars. My evidence:

1. The FAQ has not be updated since 27 Oct 2006.

2. At the end of the FAQ it reads:

Q: When will the Mars format be frozen for 1.0?
A: A date for this has not yet been set.
Q: When will the Mars plug-in be available?
A: It is planned to be available before the end of the year.

This all seems very tentative.

As Joe Wilcox observes here:
“Adobe’s competitive response to XPS makes sense. PDF’s heritage predates the populist Web, and Adobe created the format for the purpose of mimicking paper documents. In the 21st century, however, digital documents are often containers that likely will never be printed. Paper’s relevance — and so the need to mimic — has greatly diminished.”
All of this is, on the surface, true (except perhaps the “makes sense” part). Does tossing high-fidelity page-oriented PDF into an XML container really address this issue?

I think even more significant is Adobe’s clearly stated, and obviously honestly intended, design to make PDF an ISO standard. My cynical blog entry is here: . But, as Adobe and others point out, subsets of PDF, very useful subsets I’d say, are already ISO standards, including “Several trade-specific subsets of the PDF spec are either ISO approved or in the approval process, including PDF/X for printers, PDF/E for engineers, PDF/A for archivists and PDF/UA for making documents compliant with Section 508 regulations.” (http://www.eweek.com/article2/0,1895,2088277,00.asp).

These aspects of PDF, including, of course, the entire spec, only serve to “encrypt” as standards that which makes PDF uniquely the “Portable Document Format.” PDF as an XPS competitor is not uniquely PDF, in the historic sense of the format, and with the entire PDF spec submitted to ISO, Mars needs to succeed within this process. Do we really think it can?

I think that Adobe is far more interested in Apollo (http://labs.adobe.com/technologies/apollo/). Although this is a very different beast than Mars, I believe Adobe knows that its future lies much moreso with this kind of technology than it does on the not-very-hospitable planet Mars.

The PDF ISO Standard

Much is being made today of Adobe Systems announcement that “it intends to release the full Portable Document Format (PDF) 1.7 specification to AIIM, the Enterprise Content Management Association, for the purpose of publication by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO).”

The main hubbub surrounds the contention of several bloggers that this represents another attack by Adobe on Microsoft and its recently-released XPS format, “the PDF killer.” Quite probably so. It’s a subject worth examining, although not superficially.
For today I’d like to consider what it means to become an ISO standard. I think of this as the equivalent of getting a lifetime achievement award from The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (The Oscars). It means you were pretty good, but you’re now almost dead.

As of December 31, 2005, there were 15,649 published ISO standards, with 1,240 released in that year alone. Under the heading of electronics, information technology and telecommunications, there were 2,447 published standards. How many does your organization conform to? If this impresses you, remember to celebrate World Standards Day on October 14! And for even more fun, there’s the new isomemory game (http://www.iso.org/iso/en/commcentre/isomemory/startpage.html#). I hear it’s fun for the whole family!

You can’t read the published standards on the ISO site without giving them a chunk of cash first. That says something in itself; I’m just not sure what. But you can see listings of the bodies buried in the ISO graveyard. For example ISO 12639:2004 is the TIFF/IT standard, once used widely in the prepress industry, but no longer a player. You can however download it for 176 Swiss francs, 8700 Yugoslav dinars, or about $140 Yankee dollars.

ISO 6804:1991 covers “rubber hoses and hose assemblies for washing-machines and dishwashers — Specification for inlet hoses.” It’s yours for 48 Swiss francs!

I could go on (and am tempted to do so).

At the same time, there are certain relevant standards that have crept into ISO…as Adobe mentions in its press release, all of the PDF sibling are now ISO standards (PDF/X, PDF-X1, etc.). The OpenDocument Format is a standard. And so on.

So what is the significance of becoming an ISO standard when your standard is one that people actually use? Historically, none; more recently, some.

As the publishing industry has evolved into an ever-more-complex microsystem, more and more organizations (and indeed states, countries, etc.) are choosing to endorse standards that have been accepted and published by ISO.

Will more organizations use PDF if it’s an ISO standard? Probably not. That is, unless Microsoft gains real traction with XPS. There are some very high-stakes games being played against the Microsoft/Windows juggernaut, and standards have become a key weapon in the game. Adobe has played a major trump card. Microsoft: your move.

Adobe & Microsoft headed for battle over PDF

The Wall Street Journal reported today that talks between Adobe and Microsoft over the inclusion of PDF creation in the upcoming release of Office have broken down, and they speculate that Adobe will file an antitrust suit as a result. The issue is that MS was planning to include PDF creation for free, which is obviously a direct hit at Adobe’s Acrobat revenue. If you have been following Microsoft’s XPS (XML Paper Specification) development as we reported here, you won’t be too surprised.

It is too early to know exactly how this will play out, but anyone with applications or workflows that depend on heavy use of both Office and PDF needs to keep this on their radar!

UPDATE: Mary Jo Foley has more info on this.

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