Lots of people know of news aggregator services like Digg. Fewer are familiar with Mixx, a competitor launched in October. That may soon begin to change. Today, the LA Times Media Group struck a content and marketing partnership with the Web 2.0 news site. The Times also made a small equity investment, the size of which was not disclosed.
Mixx is based in McLean Virginia and owned by Recommended Reading, Inc. Like social news sites Digg, Propeller or Thoof, Mixx is built around users submitting links to web content and voting on those links. It is entirely “crowd sourced.” There are no editors. More popular submissions get higher profile displays.
The strength of Mixx is their user interface. Compared to other sites, there is a greater opportunity and more intuitive tools to customize the look and feel of your landing page as a subscriber. It’s more a cross with a personalized home page and a news aggregator than competitors.
This personalized nature of the Mixx offering makes the site less likely to be overrun by a mob mentality. More succinctly, sites like Digg are sometimes vilified for the appearance of a small group of hyper-users controlling the site. This small group of extremely active users often seem to have a greater impact on front page popularity or a link’s success within the site. Also, on sites like Digg, on any given day, the quality of front page content can vary from broadly newsworthy subjects to a bad joke or a blog posting on a celebrity wardrobe malfunction. You are at the mercy of the crowd. On Mixx, because you have greater ability to customize your experience, you’re less likely to have these kinds of problems.
So far, the usage base for Mixx is relatively small; a few hundred thousand unique visitors with only some percentage of that participating actively. Given only a few months of live service, and primarily word of mouth marketing, a large audience is a down the road. Accordingly, the depth of the content on the site (and its value as a "discovery agent") is still limited. Likewise, it’s difficult to guess what kind of experience their site will offer once established with a large user base (if established.)
Deals to put “link” buttons like those occurring at the bottom of articles like this one, but on major news sites like USA Today, Reuters and now the deal with LA Times, may help increase their exposure.
Mixx was founded by Chris McGill who was General Manager of Yahoo News from 2000 to 2004 and then vice president of strategy at USA TODAY. Prior to the Times’ investment, the company raised $1.5 million in a round of funding led by Intersouth Partners.