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O.co loses 61% of its traffic to O.com

Kevin Murphy, March 3, 2012, 09:31:31 (UTC), Domain Registries

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.

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Comments (23)

  1. dirtydomainer says:

    that is a true statement by byrne,
    but another fact is, if they have owned o.com and operating with it then they were also sending some traffic to o.co domain.

  2. Brad Mugford says:

    This is a very interesting article.

    This is the most heavily promoted .CO end user, who made a major effort to rebrand. They are basically admitting they made a huge mistake and there was major consumer confusion.

    I know traffic loss to .COM has been discussed many times, but 61% is a stunning number.

    @ dirtydomainer

    The traffic loss from .COM to .CO is almost non-existent from everything I have seen.

  3. Alan says:

    Can’t wait to hear Robert Clines take on this!

  4. .COM says:

    .CO = FAIL

  5. adam says:

    Thank you for this article.
    I have enough stupid, paid (by .Co Registry) articles about their extension on other blogs.

    If anyone does a short research will know that .co is dying now.

  6. AB says:

    Overstock spent huge money on promoting.
    How can anyone even think about successful promoting .co website without significant money – I guess is cheaper and safer to buy .com.

    People have to understand that there is no more `premium .co` which can be hand registered.
    So why waste money on second class .co why you can buy for some hundreds .com

  7. adam says:

    they spend 350,000 on o.co and later lost millions.
    I remember when Mr Cale last time called Overstock`problem `A blip on the radar`
    If I was Overstock I would sue him.

  8. Mike says:

    I dug a six foot grave next to .mobi a couple years ago. Now, I’m ust waiting with the shovel in hand for the .co domain carcass.

    I know it’s coming soon….. now that it is starting to stink for everyone.

  9. David says:

    Adding to @Mike’s comment:
    It’s going to be a massacre when the New gTLDs roll out.

  10. gpmgroup says:

    Wonder how many people will get sacked if .brands are deemed to have caused similar results?

    • Kevin Murphy says:

      What’s the worst that could happen? Somebody types http://www.canon.com instead of http://www.canon?

      • gpmgroup says:

        I can’t imagine many boards even in large companies being very impressed with advice that suggests they need to spend $500,000 to $1,000,000 for each brand in order to compete and then finding that actually they didn’t.

        Especially given large sections of the Corporate world has told ICANN very loudly and very clearly they didn’t want .barnds. (It’s not like ICANN’s .brands proposal is anything like equitable or sensible anyway.)

        Of course ICANN could have concentrated on areas where new GTLDs provide the most economic benefit or community benefit – but that of course wouldn’t have served the purposes of those looking to profit from the delivery of new gTLDs.

  11. ab says:

    When new gTLD appears I do not think anyone choose extension which creates confusion while there are many good to choose from.

    @ Juan, Lori

    People do not want to read on your website crappy info about leap year, that someone puts .co label on his car or about great websites samagra.co (http://www.cointernet.co/blog/meet-startup-samagraco) which BTW I do not see now.

    Very sorry to say but You are just making clowns of yourselves by doing that.

  12. ann says:

    I remember when onlinecasion.co was sold for 100,000.
    Many guys congratulated seller. It made me laugh till now.

    This transaction was very suspicious because guy who sold the domain is Colombian and has plenty .co domain registered before .co was released to general public.

    Few examples of his domains.
    loan.co, loans.co, wine.co, widget.co, widgets.co, wines.co,beer.co,beers.co, restaurant.co, restaurants.co, website.co, websites,mortgages.co, diamond.co, ya.co, book.co, wheather.co, porn.co, erotica.co, table.co, song.co, songs.co, buy, tores.co, organic.co, yes.co, baby.co, babies.co
    cruises.co, korea.co, booking.co, ticket.co, yoga, cn.co,magazine.co, magazines.co,gift.co, gifts.co,checking, buy.co, search.co, security.co,ask.co, rugs.co

    All these domains are for sale, most at Sedo.
    There are some Colombians like that guy.

    I thought that for .CO registry website development is important but somehow I do not see from above example.

  13. Raj alla says:

    Does this proov that with the new tlds, .com domains are going to get real valuable traffic to their domains?

    O.co was sending real users to o.com
    Domaintools.co will also send traffic to domaintools.com?

  14. Tom G says:

    61% is a big number.

    Exactmatch.com for new gtlds will probably get a lot of traffic. Not as much though, because .co and .com are typos of each other. Not as easy to confuse a .NYC with .com.

  15. Boardwalk says:

    Keep in mind, the 61% leakage will be from the .CO, the .NET, the .ORG, the .US and every other tld out there. In essence, the .COM guy will never need to do any advertising whatever to generate customers while the poor shlubs with the alternative extensions will need to promote like crazy.

    The new gTLDs will all .FAIL

    Motto of the story: don’t let those .COM’s lapse.

  16. Drewbert says:

    o.co an abject failure?

    Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha.

    Oooo, I wet ‘em.

  17. The tides flip so fast…
    ~Patricia – Ohio USA – DomainBELL

  18. photoposter says:

    Don’t change a brand, a traditional TLD’s like .com rules;-)

    i see the forthcomming nTLD’s pushing the old school class like .com, .net, .org and the ccTLD .de, which is in “Amiland” more popular (for aftermarkets) than .us ;-)

    Grettings from Germany, Juergen

  19. Brandon says:

    I think using the domain O.co would have been fine if they limited their marketing of that domain specifically to the internet. By taking it out into the real world, they clearly ran the gamble of having people not remembering that it was O.co and not O.com.

    I’m sure the same also happens to companies that only own the .Net version of their name. For better or for worse, people relate the internet with .Com and will likely type that in each time. Even with toll-free numbers, this happens all the time. Do you think 1-855-Flowers would be as memorable as 1-800-Flowers?

    Had this been an internet-only marketing ploy, it would have been far more successful since people could have just clicked on banners and other ads rather than trying to remember what domain extension to type in.

    My advise for anyone out there facing a similar dilemma is to try your best to get your name in .Com and then go play around with all the other domain options to spice up your marketing campaigns. Then if you were to lose 61% traffic to a novelty domain, you would only be losing it to yourself!

  20. Not Com Tom says:

    The problem, with O.co is that ‘co’ is only one letter different from ‘com’. It’s way to easy to confuse, they are typos. And, because of the current association users have with .com, it was natural that traffic bleed would be enormous.

    It will be much less likely that users will confuse .Ninja with .com.

    Traffic bleed will diminish.

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