Topix, Citysearch Team for Local Content

In a partnership of two local service providers, Citysearch will feature local news headlines from Topix.net on forty of its local guides, and Topix.net will in turn feature advertising from Citysearch’s ad network throughout its local news pages.

“This partnership is about synergy,” said Mike Markson, VP of business affairs for Topix.net. “Citysearch benefits from Topix.net’s local content for its top 40 markets, and Topix.net benefits from access to Citysearch’s network of 31,000 advertisers.”

Topix.net aggregates local news from over 7,000 sources, and determines its relevance and importance through its NewsRank technology to create 32,500 local news pages, as well as news pages for every publicly traded company and major league sports team. In addition to its own sites, Topix.net powers the local news search on AskJeeves and has distribution agreements with other smaller partners.

“In tandem with extending the reach of our network of local advertisers through Topix.net’s localized news pages, we see this as a great milestone in championing local content on the Internet,” said Taek Kwon, EVP of product and technology for Citysearch.

Citysearch and Topix.net expect to implement the partnership by the end of 2004.

Topix.net is similar to Google News in that news pages are generated by an algorithm instead of human editors. The difference is that Topix.net has a local focus and uses proprietary relevance technology, Markson said.

“National news stories are becoming a commoditized product. Google News is aggregating stories, but they’re not categorizing them to as fine a level as we do. They do it at a general roll-up level, while we have more than 150,000 categories,” he said.

Markson said Topix.net’s NewsRank technology is able to eliminate stray references to a locality. It can determine if a story is about a city or topic area, or if that city or topic was just mentioned in the article, he said.

A growing number of users access Topix.net news via RSS feeds. Before signing a deal to have its feeds pre-loaded into My Yahoo, clicks from RSS feeds made up about 5 percent of traffic, according to Markson. Since then, RSS traffic makes up between 10 percent and 20 percent of traffic, he said.

Topix.net does not currently include ads in its RSS feeds, but it has explored “advertorial” posts in its feeds. “Advertising information can be content when it’s contextually placed. It can be effective when it’s targeted to a topical feed,” he said.

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