If the venerable Adobe PDF format were a person, it would be old enough to vote, and it hasn’t changed much in all that time. It’s an easy shortcut for posting anything from academic papers to brochures. But for any purpose related to marketing, it’s time to bury it.
A new report from the Pew Internet Project finds that 25 percent of Americans are now doing most of their Internet browsing by phone. And if you’re relying on PDFs to reach those people, you’re missing a big chunk of your market. Why? Because phones — even the smartest of phones — hate PDFs. PDFs are bigger than HTML files, so your user has to wait longer to see them. Just like our laptops, they generally need a third-party application to even render a PDF. Even then, they do it poorly. Your poor would-be reader (soon to be a former reader) is likely give his pinch-to-zoom a few tries and give up, hitting the home button and moving on to something that is more considerate of his needs. And that “something” will likely be one of your competitors.
Relying on PDFs for your content today sends all the wrong messages, including these:
- We’re lazy. We can make a PDF in a minute and post it, but it might take us an extra 10 minutes to give you an easier-to-use HTML version. Deal with it.
- We don’t really get technology.
- We’re getting calls on our marketing stuff. Don’t worry us with details about how many we could get if we did it right. We’re content with the status quo.
- Why the hell do you want to see our stuff on your phone anyway? If it’s worth seeing, it’s worth seeing at least on a laptop.
- Quit-yer-bitchin’. We finally gave you a web site that works with something besides Internet Explorer. We don’t cater to malcontents.
Still think ditching PDFs is too much trouble? You win. By all means, keep dumping PDFs on those 87 percent of smartphone users who check the Internet or email on their phones, including the 68 percent who do so every day. Maybe this whole smartphone thing is just a passing fad anyway.
And the cow jumped over the moon.