Facebook makes member profiles more personal – USATODAY.com

PALO ALTO, Calif. — Facebook is giving the profiles of its 500 million members a much more personal touch.

The social-networking giant on Sunday began rolling out a radical redesign of user profiles that is designed to more clearly define the interests of individuals and display relevant information about who they are.

It is also sure to be a powerful enticement for advertisers and marketers, say analysts.

“Our profiles didn’t give a sense of who (people) are,” says Peter Deng, a product manager at Facebook. “This provides a better snapshot of you.”

Now, information such as one’s employer, hometown, marital status, education and birth date are prominently displayed at the top of a profile.

Navigation tabs on the left side of the profile page, when clicked, prominently display friends, photos and roommates. A new section lets users list their favorite teams and people who inspire them.

The makeover puts a premium on personal data that often can be buried in one’s profile, Deng says. Users will receive a notification at the top of their profile.

The new look was disclosed during a 60 Minutesfeature on Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg that aired Sunday night.

It might also be an invaluable tool in creating richer demographic information about individuals for targeted advertising, says Marissa Gluck, an analyst at Radar Research, who closely follows Facebook.

“There definitely seems to be a push to increase the data in profiles and make them more visual,” she says. “The ads are also more prominent and almost have parity with profile info.”

Facebook is expected to collect $1.28 billion in worldwide advertising revenue this year, up from $665 million in 2009, researcher eMarketer says.

Facebook’s new profile page should curry favor with its developers, too.

The redesign is the latest in a flurry of new features by Facebook in its aggressive pursuit of users and advertisers. Advertising accounts for most of Facebook’s revenue, says Charlene Li, an analyst at Altimeter Group.

In recent months, it has revamped its messaging service, added an online check-in application for people to share their location and introduced a groups function for specialized conversations.