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Facebook, which now has 190m users and continues its ascent as the world's largest social network, has rolled out a major update.

There are UI changes and new features alike and many are designed to put Facebook into the competition as talk of the 'real-time web' heats up.

Eric Eldon at VentureBeat has a great review of the changes and what they mean for users.

Digital marketers, however, will be less interested in what Facebook is doing on the front-end and more interested in its new ad offerings.

It is now possible to target ads to Facebook users based on language and location. That means that if you're looking to reach users who speak Spanish or want to get your ad in front of users who live within 25 miles of New York City, you can do so.

Needless to say this could be very useful to many marketers and could help Facebook lure in smaller local advertisers, which would be a boon to an ad business that has thus far disappointed.

Of course, Facebook risks raising more privacy concerns with these new targeting features. Although geotargeting of ads is nothing new and is done all the time on other sites and ad networks anyway, a lot of attention is focused on Facebook and it gets more scrutiny from the media and general public.

That said, targeting could be a good thing for users too. Right now Facebook is notorious for underwhelming advertisers and a recent study found that younger social networkers don't find the ads on sites like Facebook to be relevant.

If these new targeting features can help bring in more advertisers and get their ads in front of the right people, Facebook might be able to improve the quality and relevancy of the ads its users see, improving advertiser ROI in the process.

That's something that both Facebook sorely needs.

Patricio Robles

Published 12 March, 2009 by Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles is a tech reporter at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter.

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