Recently, I decided to take a look at the CBS show, Jericho, which was slated to be dropped, but was reinstated by fan support.

First stop was the free version of the pilot on the iTunes store. Perfect download, no problem watching and controls that actually worked. Plus I could watch it on my iPhone.

Next stop, where I thought I’d be able to watch it on my mac. No such luck- since CBS engineered their site with the “RealPlayer” which has been referred to as one of the worst pieces of software ever. The mac plugin wasn’t even available the first time I tried. So, lucky for me, CBS was going to rerun the series in order over the summer. Tivo here I come. The second showing ended up being a fast forward through at least a half dozen episodes- and no where near as good as the seven minute Sopranos. Then, CBS skipped a week (or Tivo balked)- and I went back to the CBS site again. Somehow, I got it to stutter through a painful hour and a half viewing of a 45 minute show- complete with the same 2 commercials over and over. Then- JACKPOT- seems CBS put up another site: which runs fine on a mac -problem solved. I’m in Jericho heaven- even though the play controls still aren’t near as good as Quicktime, and the resume doesn’t work at all.CBS error messages

But, here is the thing: CBS has the perfect opportunity to build a relationship with me. I’m coming back over and over to their site, to spend “quality time” with their show. They could ask as few as 1 or 2 questions in return for providing each episode on demand for free and start customizing the commercials. Right now, I get one for Gerbers baby food (I’m a single male over 40 with no intentions of breeding) and for AT&T Wireless- to whom I’m already stuck with, since I have an iPhone. Irrelevant ads, presented by the most relevant personalized delivery system.

CBS network timeout messageIf you are a marketer and are buying online ad delivery, you should be asking about how the message is being targeted and what kind of feedback mechanism is provided. Since I can’t fast forward through the ads easily (remember, the controls of “innertube” suck) all you are doing is annoying me, instead of having a chance to build a real relationship. In an age of earned media, that annoyance factor could actually contribute to negative brand equity- distaste for your brand from the intrusiveness and repetitiveness of your ad delivery.

Advertising online can be the most powerful tool yet, but, like all power, used without care- it can backfire royally.