The group has soared in popularity to a record 30.6 million visitors last month, but is expected to make a profit of only $30 million (?15 million) this year on revenues of $150 million. Facebook?s new advertising system is central to the group?s efforts to ?monetise? the social phenomenon that it has created, by which millions of people worldwide avidly log in to swap information about themselves.

The site is a potential goldmine to advertisers because it contains a host of data on its users, such as their birthdate, interests, events they plan to attend, holidays and musical tastes, as well as numerous photographs. The new model is at an early stage, but is to be piloted soon. It will enable advertisers to visit a dedicated website through which they could track down users more precisely than using traditional, blunter, targeting methods.

The advertisements are expected to appear differently from the banner ads and boxes that show up on the borders of Facebook pages at present. Instead, they would be mixed up with the ?news feed?, which provides updates on the activities of each user?s friends.

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