~things that matter~

Some Adobe Analytics magic in PDFs

[Update: 2020-04-04: We now have a productized solution via a client-side PDF rendering engine, DCViewSDK. I have removed the technical details of the custom solution from here.]

Back in South Africa, our customer wondered how some companies claimed to be “magically” tracking what you did inside a PDF document. And they asked why hadn’t Adobe Analytics got something similar; especially Adobe being the PDF pioneer.

The company was interested to understand the consumption of their clients’ PDF brochures and targeting those who reviewed the stock price (page).

Now, ever wondered how it might feel to be able to understand what content inside that beautiful pdf brochure people are looking at?

  • Send a personalized message to a potential customer who read about a new offering in the brochure.
  • Figure out if a piece of info out there may make more sense at a prominent location on the website real estate rather than buried deep within a voluminous pdf.
  • Or even for the designer, is there a piece of content that forced users to zoom in?

The Problem

You are not alone. PDF Analytics or document analytics in a broader sense had been a path rarely traveled. There were not a whole lot of options for accessing a URL or data collection over the internet. That kind of restricted Analytics efforts on downloaded documents.

The Solution

However, as most browsers are now capable of rendering PDF documents, the question becomes simpler. How do we add Adobe Analytics client-side technologies into the content that’s already sitting there, in the browser, in plain HTML?
The answer is a JavaScript-based PDF parsing and rendering engine. Once the PDF document is rendered in the browser and you get access to the DOM, you can very easily deploy Adobe Analytics and the Launch Tag Management Solution. With minimal coding, you can capture the page number and interactions therein: zoom, search, select, copy text, and print to name a few.

The initial solution leveraged a good 3rd-party library for rendering PDFs. However, a lot has changed after that, and we now have a great rendering engine called the View SDK from Adobe. Adobe Analytics integration comes pre-built.
At this point, I would rather suggest you review the widely available documentation and public posts (including this one I wrote) on the topic.

PDF Analytics may soon become the new norm. The great thing is that it can be done in a Non-Destructive way. The plugin is easy to deploy and manage! Please, try it today!


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  1. Girish Kumar

    Hi Deepak, can you share more technical details regarding the solution? I am unable to find good documentation on PDF.JS. Our requirement is a bit different. We embed clickable links in email to download the pdf files. Can we connect on phone or email?

    • DRK

      Hi Girish,
      You’re right. Finding documentation was a pain. This work involved some reverse-engineering and guesswork as well 🙂
      For the direct links, you may want to intercept those requests server-side and take appropriate action. If you have an existing engagement with Adobe, you may be able to reach me via your Adobe rep.

  2. Robin

    Same can be done with GA? Think so.

  3. Mrunal

    Hi Depak, thanks for this post. I am stuck becasue ehe eventListeners do not seem to work. Can you share some techinical documentation on this? Thanks in advance.

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Deepak Ranjan Kar