Topix.net Gets Modular With Headlines

News aggregator Topix.net will soon begin distributing contextually-targeted headline “modules” to publisher partners, in a deal that involves sharing the resulting ad revenue.

The product builds upon work Topix.net has been doing with 177 Gannett, Knight-Ridder and Tribune Company sites. (Together, the newspaper publishers own a three-quarter stake in Topix.net.) The company has developed technology that scans a page, parses its content, and serves up related headlines from more than 10,000 sources. The idea is that publishers can put a module featuring these headlines at the bottom of articles, so readers who come to the end of a story can read more about the same subject. Those who click through proceed either to a co-branded site or to one of Topix.net’s 300,000 category pages. The aggregator will give the publisher a percentage of the resulting pay-per-click ad revenue.

The company says it’s learned through early experiences that readers coming in via these modules are twice as likely to click on advertising.

“When you get a user that reads an entire article on a news site and they still want to know more, if they click into an experience where they’re doing to delve into deep Web results, those people tend to be hyper-interested in the topic and they monetize even higher,” said Rich Skrenta, CEO of Topix.net.

Topix.net displays Google AdWords ads, but they’re targeted based on the company’s proprietary technology. The firm also sells its own pay-per-click advertising.

In the first 60 days, the technology has been deployed on 200 million articles and has driven two million readers to Topix.net content.

While Topix is initially focusing on large publisher partners, it eventually hopes to develop a system whereby bloggers and other small players could also deploy the modules.

Before introducing the new modules, Topix.net had concentrated on providing local and vertical news sections on Web sites such as Ask Jeeves, Info.com, America Online and CitySearch. It also operates a standalone Web site.

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