Clicked on a link in a BusinessWeek.com e-mail newsletter this morning, and landed in the publication's video center. Was pleased to see a message telling me the content was free, and brought to me by the sponsor. A pre-roll ad for Microsoft ran. So far, so good.
But then, right when I was getting all geared up for my content, I got a blue screen that said "The story you've selected is unavailable in this format. Please use Internet Explorer on Windows to view the clip." Now, I know Microsoft was the sponsor, but this is ridiculous. Publishers, if you've got technical limitations like this, tell the user up front. Don't wait until after the advertising to disappoint. There's always the risk of it reflecting badly on your sponsor.
UPDATE: Later in my experience on the site, I clicked to go to a story and started reading. Then, suddenly, the page refreshed and I was watching an interstitial ad (for FedEx). Needless to say, I took advantage of the "skip this ad" link. It's one thing to be served an ad before you start reading the content, but to be interrupted? That's just not cool.