Overstock.com’s decision to rebrand itself O.co had a disastrous effect on the internet retailer’s traffic, according to its CEO.
Patrick Byrne told financial analysts yesterday that “O.co was my bad call” and that “about eight out of 13 people who were trying to visit us through O.co, eight were typing O.com”
It’s not clear what the source of the data is, or why the measurement given was out of 13, but it works out to 61%.
Byrne noted that people may have typed o.co instead after figuring out that o.com doesn’t work – it’s currently reserved, alongside most other single-letter .com domains, by Verisign.
His comments came as Overstock reported 2011 revenue down 3% to $1.05 billion and fourth-quarter revenue down 10% to $314 million.
Byrne said on a conference call with analysts:
There were some bad decisions for which I take responsibility in marketing O.co. O.co was odd in that it worked on one level. It did get out there into people’s heads, but what we discovered, and we turned it up slowly and we actually had nice adoption from the beginning of last year, gradually people shifting to O.co and then, but we got into the Christmas season and it worked terribly for people who were not familiar with us. There was a tremendous amount of traffic diverting to O.com and I think we’ve figured out that it was about eight out of 13 people who were trying to visit us through O.co, eight were typing O.com. Now some of them may have come, trying anyway.
The company bought o.co from registry .CO Internet for $350,000 in July 2010, during the .co relaunch. It later said it would rebrand the company on its new domain.
It even bought the naming rights to the Oakland Coliseum, which is now known as the O.co Coliseum.
Until quite recently, Overstock was an important .CO Internet reference customer. Now, I’m guessing, not so much.
Overstock has “slowed” its rebranding, reverting to referring to o.co as a “shortcut” rather than its primary address, which remains overstock.com.
The company bought o.info last year and this week launched the site as an information portal for its products. It also operates o.biz as a business-to-business site.