In the latest on the march to rebrand Overstock.com as O.co, the company this week launched O.info, which it is billing as a portal for customer reviews of Overstock.com's—excuse me—O.co's products and services, as well as information about company policies.
As I wrote last November, following consumer confusion over whether to use the domain name Overstock.com or O.co to access the company's website, Overstock announced that it was "stepping back" from its O.co domain. With this latest development, the company appears to be forwarding its rebranding efforts once again. It probably doesn't help with the consumer confusion issue that Overstock.info has been registered to various third parties since 2004.
Despite the inconsistencies and confusion surrounding the O.co rebranding, Overstock's use of the .INFO gTLD as a platform to deliver information and reviews to consumers is an intuitive and memorable use of the gTLD and, with the right marketing, just might be successful—not to mention help its languishing cousin, O.co.
Remember a few months back when online retailer Overstock.com started promoting a new domain name O.co? It began by touting it as its "new shortcut," but recently launched an advertising push declaring "Overstock.com is now O.co." It even had the name of the Oakland NFL/MLB stadium, the Overstock.com Coliseum, changed to the O.Co Coliseum.
But now, according to a recent article in Advertising Age, Overstock is backing off the O.co push, and returning to Overstock.com in online ads and television ads for the holiday season.
Overstock's president Jonathan Johnson was quick to point out that the retailer is not abandoning the short domain altogether – rather, it is just "stepping back" from it temporarily. Apparently, even though consumers appeared to respond well to the O.co ads, many were confused when it came time to type the domain into their browsers. Instead of O.co, a "good portion" of consumers typed in O.com. Like all one-character .COM domains, O.com is not available for registration. So Overstock has decided it will continue its transition to O.co, just at a slower pace; for now it will use the domain for international and mobile efforts.
When .CO Internet S.A.S decided to open up .CO, the ccTLD for Colombia, to second-level registrations by any person or entity in the world in July 2010, some began claiming that it would be a good alternative to .COM. (Previously, entities had to register domains at the third level, using domains like Domain.com.co or Domain.org.co.) And yet, even with a retail giant actively promoting a .CO domain name, many U.S.-based Internet users still default to .COM.
According to Opportunity.co, more than one million .CO domain names have been registered, but that still pales in comparison to the nearly 100 million registered .COM domain names. In fact, many established companies registered their brand names in .CO as more of a defensive move to prevent cybersquatting. While some newer ventures opted to go with .CO (perhaps because the .COM version of their name was taken), it's clear from the O.co case that the ccTLD hasn't really caught on to the extent that some believed it would.
First there was an app to help guys answer that eternal question, “Where the ladies at?” Now, for the truly socially unfortunate who can’t even seem to find a girlfriend using a giant digital compass, there is a brand-new service: FakeGirlfriend.co.
Remember that old line, “Yeah dude, I totally have a girlfriend. You’ve just never met her because she lives in Kansas/Canada/the Alpha Quadrant”? Maybe, just maybe, that used to work back in the days before the Internet or cell phones. You know, back when people used to “go steady” and “write letters.”
But now, in an age where your friends can demand that you show them your “girlfriend’s” Facebook profile on your smartphone to prove her existence, what can you do to avoid being called out on your ruse?
The answer (aside from creating a fake Facebook account using photos from the latest American Eagle catalogue) is FakeGirlfriend.co. Here’s how it works: You save the FakeGirlfriend number in your phone, and then send a text message to that number when your bros start demanding proof. FakeGirlfriend will respond with what it has determined to be a “girlfriend-esque” text, which I can only imagine reads something to the effect of, “Hey baby, you’re soooo cute! XOXO!! <3 ;)” About a minute after you receive the text, FakeGirlfriend will call you with a prerecorded message, and bam! Instant proof of your man-prowess.
Unless of course, you know, you actually attempt a conversation with the prerecorded message. But why would you? Girlfriends aren’t for talking to, they’re for displaying to your homeboys as trophies in homage to your epic pimp-itude.
The real hilarity for me here, even beyond the whole premise of FakeGirlfriend, is that the service uses the domain name FakeGirlfriend.co instead of FakeGirlfriend.com. The .COM domain was apparently not an option for the masterminds behind the service, since it was registered back in 2008. Currently, it resolves to CommercialArt.com. I guess the FakeGirlfriend inventors thought .CO would be a good substitute, seeing as how the Colombian ccTLD has been promoting itself as a viable alternative to .COM.
I believe that about as much as I believe the line about your Canadian girlfriend.
The debate over .CO – whether it can be a viable alternative to .COM or if it is just a gimmick – continues. For example, Overstock.com, the popular online retailer, recently introduced the new O.co domain name, but is billing it as a “shortcut” to the Overstock site rather than a standalone brand.
While reading the TechCrunch blog, I recently came across another example of a company using .CO for an interesting purpose. Go2 Media is a service that connects mobile publishers, local audiences and advertisers through content and location-based advertising. It owns the domain Go2.com and uses it to host its consumer-oriented site. However, the company does not own Go2Media.com – this domain is registered to a Korean man and has no content other than a link to DomainCA, a Korean domain registrar.
Instead, Go2 Media owns and leverages Go2Media.co for its business-oriented site, where it hosts information for publishers and advertisers. What likely happened was, the company saw that Go2Media.com was already registered, and sought a solution. But instead of attempting to reclaim the domain Go2Media.com through UDRP (a search on UDRPsearch turned up no filings over that domain) or other means, the company chose to register Go2Media.co as an alternative. When push comes to shove, though, Internet users in the U.S. are conditioned to affix .COM at the end of Internet addresses, and as such, Go2Media.com receives traffic – undoubtedly visitors seeking the company, not some Korean squatter’s site. At the end of the day, .CO is not a substitute for .COM.
Since it first became open to public registrations on the second level last summer, the Colombian ccTLD .CO has garnered a good deal of attention. Some have speculated that it will become a viable alternative to .COM, whereas others have written it off as a gimmick. In a recent New York Times article that explored how different ccTLDs are used by commercial entities, FairWinds’ Managing Partner Josh Bourne offered his opinion on the .CO issue: “As long as it doesn’t become well known that it’s just a bastardization of the country code for Colombia, it could take off,” he stated.
One entity that has been touting the virtues of .CO is domain name registrar Go Daddy, which offers registration services for .CO domains. The company, known for featuring attractive spokeswomen in its commercials, even decided to introduce a new “.CO girl” to promote the extension. In the weeks leading up to the Super Bowl this weekend, the company produced a series of ads to generate buzz about who this new mystery woman would be. And in the ad that ran during the Super Bowl, Go Daddy finally revealed her identity:
The new .CO girl is…Joan Rivers? Or at least, Rivers’ head digitally transposed on another woman’s body? I’ll be honest, I don’t think I want to go to GoDaddy.co to find out more. The commercial was weird enough for me on its own.
This kind of stunt, in my opinion, definitely points more toward gimmick than legitimate. This sentiment is echoed in a recent Fortune article, which points out that, as we’ve seen at FairWinds, the majority of registrations in .CO thus far have been defensive.