When YouTube pitched its new ad format, it described to me the semi-transparent overlay ads as “something that has not been available before.” It probably should have added: “on YouTube.”

As I noted
in my story, VideoEgg has been using overlays for nearly a year. Yahoo and others have been testing the format too.

Maybe Google pushed the novelty angle too much with some reporters, but coverage of the news set off a tempest in the in the tech-blogosphere.

It all ended with a perfect marketing opportunity for VideoEgg, which quickly plastered the words “Welcome, YouTube. Seriously” on its site. They were followed by: “We invented the video overlay ad about a year ago. We are delighted that the market is finally catching on to a vital new approach to video advertising.”

The message will ring familiar to veterans of the tech industry. That’s because Apple used the same words to parody I.B.M.’s late entry into the PC market. (Thanks to NewTeeVee for the link.)

I checked with a Google spokesman who said the company never intended to claim it had invented the overlay ads. “The important thing is that we offer access to the world’s largest online video community,” the spokesman said. Hard to argue with that.

NY times 2007