PALO ALTO, California: Social networking website Facebook is set to allow multinational companies to conduct polls to assess the appeal of new products among its 150 million user base, with an option to target research samples based on membership data - for example where they live to their marital status.

The new polling system will provide organisations with instant feedback from Facebook's users, and is seen as part of the social networking site's efforts to drive revenue growth.

Says Randi Zuckerberg, the company's global markets director: "It's beneficial for everyone to see us as a global community of 150m users. 

"The vast majority are not just college students in the US talking about things in their bedrooms. We are showing how we are a serious and insightful community.

"I had tonnes of people saying 'this could be so incredible for our business'. It takes a very long time to do a focus group, and businesses often don't have the luxury of time. I think they liked the instant responses."

CareerBuilder, a worldwide graduate recruitment firm, has already taken up the new "engagement ads" system, with US telecoms provider AT&T also reported to be undertaking trials.

Online research firm eMarketer estimates that US advertiser spending on Facebook will decline by around 20% this year to $209m (€163m; £147m).

Deloitte also argues the cost of storing material like photos and videos has also grown dramatically, acting as a drain on revenues.

Data sourced from; additional content by WARC staff