Local Content Player Topix Expands Ad Offerings

Topix, a site that provides local content based on Zip code, this week plans to announce advertising and content deals with Lat49, ServiceMagic, and Marchex. It also said it will announce a content deal with MapQuest.

To make content even more local, Topix plans to leverage a relationship with Lat49, a company that layers advertising on top of Google maps. In this execution, most Topix viewers will see a map on the right-hand side of the page with tags for local news, photos, sponsors, and events. Lat49 will sell advertising placements.

“If you look at the theme here, partners like Lat49 as well as Marchex, and MapQuest, they are truly local services. This is all basically about monetizing and effectively utilizing what we put together from a local standpoint,” said Chris Tolles, CEO of Topix, in an interview Monday with ClickZ News. The announcements are timed to coincide with the Kelsey Group Interactive Local Media 2008 conference this week.

At the same time Topix plans to announce a deal with ServiceMagic, a home improvement lead-generation service provider. Since users have already volunteered their Zip code, they are a step closer to getting a referral. Topix already provides links to similar services for contractors and lawyers through Lawyers.com. “These guys are to some degree lead generation,” said Tolles. “They’ve been going for a long time and we are tapping into their network.”

To enhance some of its local business listings and yellow page directory, which is powered by infoUSA data, Topix began working with Marchex. “They do local business listings, Marchex has national advertising. They’ll become a channel to what we have,” Tolles said.

Topix will also push content out to AOL’s MapQuest. “They’ve deployed a huge amount of content on the MapQuest site including local news, and we are providing news to them,” said Tolles.

While Topix began its life as a local news aggregation site as a .net, it later moved to .com domain and added social elements. Tolles reports the site collects roughly 150,000 comments per day.

“From the partnership standpoint you’re connecting to an audience that cares about where they are and doesn’t just leave. It’s local in a local context,” said Tolles. “It’s differentiated from where a local ad network sells local by geo-sniffing the IP addresses.”

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