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What O.co says about new TLDs

Kevin Murphy, January 21, 2011, 13:51:23 (UTC), Domain Registries

Overstock.com’s shock rebranding move yesterday is not only a big marketing coup for .CO Internet, it also may be good news for new top-level domains in general.

In a pair of US TV commercials (available here and here if you’re overseas) Overstock has started calling itself O.co, the domain it bought privately from the .co registry for $350,000 last July.

When I wrote, last November, “Overstock’s .com domain is its brand, and that’s not about to change”, I may well have been wrong. Go to overstock.com and look at the logo.

This is good evidence, if it were needed, that the very same trademark interests currently opposed to ICANN’s new TLDs program are also keenly aware of the benefits.

Overstock has had its eyes on O.com for over five years, and fought unsuccessfully within ICANN to have single-letter .com domains released from the VeriSign reserved list.

It was not until .co relaunched last summer – essentially a new TLD – that Overstock got the opportunity to register a domain (almost?) as good as the one it wanted.

I find this interesting because Overstock, like many other major brand owners, has been a vocal opponent of new TLDs.

In a July 2009 letter to ICANN (pdf), for example, Overstock expresses many of the same views about new TLDs that are still being expressed by the trademark interests currently holding up the program.

I’m not suggesting that Overstock’s eagerness to use O.co negates its specific criticisms of the new TLDs program, but its conflicting behavior does seem to suggest a certain degree of cognitive dissonance.

On the one hand, it opposed new TLDs. But when a new TLD launched, it grasped the opportunity with both hands and rebranded the whole company around it.

If what I hear is true, many of the companies publicly opposed to new TLDs are also the ones simultaneously investigating their own “.brand” domains.

Could Overstock’s latest move represent a pent-up demand for new TLDs among big brands? What does that mean for the future of .com as the internet’s premium real estate?

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Comments (6)

  1. Mike says:

    Starbucks made a big mistake in not registering the .CO version of their newest size drink – Trenta. All of the other popular TLDs are taken already, some for many years. They could have had trenta.co and have done marketing and advertising promotions from that site.. You KNOW people are typing in trenta.co because that is what people do these days with some word thats hyped up in the news… Foolish $30 move.

  2. John Berard says:

    Overstock has decided that, when it comes to domain names, shorter is better, more memorable and more, well, brandable.

    This does not resolve the problems with new gTLDs many brand holders have expressed, but it does suggest that the “g” might stand for “good” and not only for “get outta here!”

  3. Y.Goulnik says:

    O.co maybe a good brand, and .co a cheap alternative or add-on to trap mistyped .com.
    But the converse seems to happen more frequently, i.e. those few people still typing in URLs adding an ‘m’ to .co because it doesn’t sound right.
    That’s about all this says about new gTLDs – disruptive potential, not necessarily creative disruption. .CO obviously trys to build upon .COM, what would Over.Stock build on?

  4. […] which is currently branding itself as o.co, did not receive o.co.uk, despite having a trademark on the term, possibly for the reasons I […]

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