In an effort to take better advantage of the time spent on Groups, Facebook has changed the product’s interface, which frees up more space in the sidebar to show ads and other modules, such as People You May Know.

Facebook Groups were launched – a year ago – with the goal of making it easier to build a space for important groups of people, such as family, co-workers, clubs, and so on. By default Groups are closed, which means that anything posted within it is only visible to members.

Although Facebook’s recent addition of Friend Lists might reduce the need for Groups, there are still many strong use cases, specifically built around interests. While a user might have friends assigned to a specific list, there’s no obligation for his or her friends to add that user to a similar list – which can lead to disjointed conversations.

Recent updates provided members of Groups with an in-Group search bar to find specific posts, and it also allowed users to upload photo albums. Now the number of photos and documents that have been uploaded to a Group are visible at the top center of each page. Previously these links were buried in a sidebar, which didn’t do much to remind Group members that media could be shared.

The ability to create a Group event, and edit or leave a Group have been moved into a settings drop-down menu in the top right corner. The description of a Group is now shown in the right sidebar – this has freed up enough additional space to show more ads above the fold.

The additional placement for advertising – or other Facebook modules – will not only allow the social network to receive more ad revenue, but also encourage content engagement and more connections between Group users. Advertisers will also have more opportunities to reach a more niche target audience since Groups are often built around specific interests, careers, or lifestyles.

[Via: Inside Facebook, Image credit: Grzegorz Łobiński]