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Facebook to Increase Ad Targeting

Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Facebook is hoping to increase its advertising revenue by gathering even more information about its users.

The social media website rolled out a new tool on Wednesday that will assist advertisers in targeting users based on both online and offline spending history.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the new tool will combine Facebook's information about users' friends and what they "like" with additional information from third-party data marketers. The new data will likely include what Web pages the consumer visits, the email lists they sign up for, and what they spend their money on.

By merging their own information with data from third-party brokers, Facebook can provide advertisers with massive groups of people who are the best fit for particular advertisements.

While Facebook would not provide information on individual users, they can provide advertisers with large groups of members and data on their behavior both in and out of the social network's realm.

According to The Wall Street Journal, Jeffrey Chester, executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy, has asked the Federal Trade Commission to investigate Facebook's ad-targeting methods.

Facebook says that is is not using location data from its users and will ensure that all information provided to its partners is anonymous. In addition, Facebook users can find out why they were targeted for specific ads, or opt out from ads from specific advertisers.

General Motors and the Neiman Marcus Group are two of the most notable companies who are reported to be increasing their advertising on Facebook, at least partially in response to the new data available to them. In the first quarter of 2013, Facebook's advertising revenue rose over 40 percent from 2012.

Sean Williams, the social media manager for Hyundai's America group, told The Wall Street Journal that he believes the new advertising tools could help companies target potential customers.

"In the past, we really just used Facebook as an engagement tool," he told the publication. "We're now thinking about turning this into an evergreen, or always-on, program."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

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