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Facebook Triples Customer Base for Automated Ads

In a sign that small to mid-sized businesses are starting to allocate more of their marketing budgets to social networking, Facebook on Monday said the number of customers using its automated advertising system had more than tripled in the past year. The service lets companies target users based on the information in their profiles. "You basically just have a greater diversity of people using our ad system -- lots of businesses, lots of local businesses finding success," said Tim Kendall, Facebook's director of product marketing for monetization. "It's really been a steady, successful growth pattern."

Facebook launched the automated ad system in 2007. It lets companies edit their ads on the fly during campaigns, suggesting words for advertisers to use in targeting consumers. The system allows 25 characters in the ad's title, 135 characters in the body of the text, and an optional photo.

In addition to its automated system, Facebook shows ads sold by Microsoft and has a dedicated sales staff to help companies that want to buy so-called "Engagement Ads." These include features like video and allow users to become "fans" of brands.

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