Topix Switchup Aims to Bring Local CGM to Masses

topix_ces_logo.pngLocal news aggregator site Topix has added new functionality in the hopes of attracting more wannabe citizen journalists, and has officially switched to its Topix.com domain. In the longrun, more user-generated content and subsequent discussion will mean more ad space. Because Topix targets news stories by zip code, the site appeals to advertisers looking to reach hyper local markets.

For now, though, even with the new site features and domain switchover from .net to .com, Topix is sticking to the same ad model it’s been using, mainly running Google AdSense ads. According to Topix folks I spoke with last week, the site earns $2 to $2.50 CPMs from AdSense on some pages.

That could change, though. As its pageviews grow, the site is considering building a sales force to sell to national and brand advertisers.

With its new site features, Topix is going after less savvy Web users, those who may find the prospect of creating blogs or uploading video or podcasts daunting. Users can submit stories via email to the relevant zip code @topix.com.

The site will rank top stories by popularity, but to reduce the possibility of system-gaming, popularity is determined by a story’s ability to spur online discussions. To gauge this, Topix wil rank stories according to the number of comments received by unique users.

Topix is concerned that moving to the new .com domain could wreak havoc on its search results rankings. When I spoke with them recently, they suggested they would run both the .net and .com domains in unison until the .com site builds Google juice. It seems as though that’s what they’re doing since the .net domain doesn’t redirect to .com at this point.

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