Fascinating interview today by Mark Glaser with the leadership of Topix and how this online news aggregator is now focusing on local forums.
When local news aggregator Topix decided to set up online forums last December for every city and small town in America, they figured the forums would be a loss leader. After all, online forums have a bad reputation for unfettered discussion, gossip and slander, leading most news organizations to abandon them altogether online. And people on forums are usually more focused on the discussion than on clicking on ads.
But for Topix, the forums have transformed the site from a simple search engine and news aggregator into a series of online water cooler discussions that riff off the news of the day. And with the popularity of forums, Topix has a more engaged audience that stays on the site longer. Plus, Topix is bringing in even more money by serving up forums to newspaper partner sites and sharing ad revenues with them.