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Facebook now has 10 million active users in Australia, confirming the country’s status as one of the company’s most important markets around the world, where it has more than 500 million users, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.

The social networking site released the figures as it announced that early next year advertisers would be able to target users by location as they check in to stores or restaurants.

The number of users who access the site, post comments or pass on content at least once a month has doubled since May 2009.

Paul Borrud, Facebook’s regional vice-president of Australia and New Zealand, said the take-up of Facebook on mobile phones and devices was one reason for the growth, which he said was showing no sign of slowing. Globally, two-fifths of Facebook users are accessing the site through their mobile devices and those that do are twice as active as non-mobile users. Australians spend longer on the site than anyone else.

However, Borrud said size was not everything as advertisers were looking for greater levels of engagement as well as a large audience. ”You can have lots of people who are active, but if they are not doing things on a regular basis then they don’t have much of a platform,” he said.

”It [size] is one of the things they [advertisers] should measure but they should also measure the amount of engagement and sharing and who is influencing their friends.”

Borrud said the introduction of Deals ”early next year” would drive those levels of engagement higher. Last month in the US, Facebook turned on a service to allow retailers and other businesses to offer coupons and special deals through its mobile application, Places, its geo-location service that allows people to alert their friends of their whereabouts.

Facebook is still a relative minnow in the online display advertising market, with media buyers estimating it is writing about AUD$12 million a year – a figure that Facebook will not confirm. More at Sydney Morning Herald

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