Target Content on Modern SharePoint

One of the most anticipated feature of modern SharePoint is definitely audience targeting. Brand new audience targeting feature is currently rolling out to Office 365 tenants and should be soon available worldwide.

On this blog audience targeting refers to new audience targeting feature. Previous audience targeting is referenced on this blog as “classic”.

What is audience targeting?

Audience targeting feature enables targeting of content to defined group(s). Targeted content helps end-users to discover relevant information and make their experience more personalized. Audience targeting is not affecting permissions or limiting access to content, so content will be openly available and can be discovered via search. Target audience(s) can be defined to modern SharePoint pages and news as well as items on document libraries. Audience targeting is not available on SharePoint lists.

Audience targeting is based on groups on Azure Active Directory. Targeting can be applied to Office 365 group, Azure AD security group or security-enabled email distribution list or a combination of these. Earlier with modern SharePoint targeting scenarios had to be resolved with separate sites and permission, which of course affected to openness of information.

Audience targeting is no longer supporting the use of SharePoint groups or globally managed target audiences on user profile service available on classic audience targeting.

Targeting is available on modern News and Highlighted Content web parts, which can display targeted content to end-user. Technically, if end-user belongs to target audiences defined on an item, item is displayed to end-user. Targeting a web part to audiences is not supported.

Design considerations

Technically audience targeting is simple and straight-forward feature for content authors, but it still requires considerations while designing information architecture of your solution. On modern SharePoint sites, content can be targeted in several methods:

  • Sites and site permissions, which limit visibility of the content to end-users who have access to site. Advantage is that content authoring can be distributed different locations, but content is not openly available for others.
  • Content metadata, which allows to filter content based on set metadata. Metadata can be also utilized to filter library content.
  • Audience targeting of content

Information architecture design is a combination of sites, permissions, metadata and target audiences, so it adds one dimensions to take care of while planning your information architecture.

One consideration of target audiences is the simple naming of utilized Azure AD groups. Since, all security related group types are supported, there might be too many options for content author to choose from and not necessarily knowing who actual audience the content. One option is to utilize dynamic Office 365 groups to build target audiences based on user profile attributes. There is no one, simple answer how to do it, because overall governance and policies needs to be taken care of also.

I would still suggest to go with audience targeting wherever possible, rather than limiting content visibility with permissions.

How to enable targeting

Audience targeting is a library and web part level setting. Here is an example how to enable targeting.

#1 Enable audience targeting on SharePoint library

On Site Pages library, open library settings, choose “Audience targeting settings” and check “Enable Audience Targeting”

Enable audience targeting on Site Pages library

On document libraries, audience targeting settings contains both new modern way and classic.

Enable audience targeting on Documents library

#2 Enable audience targeting on a web part

Both, News and Highlighted Content web part, have Enable audience targeting switch, not else needs to be changed.

#3 Add audience to pages or documents

When audience targeting is enabled on Site Pages library, Audience property is automatically added to the library and also to default view. Audiences can be applied on Page details pane or directly from library quick edit view.

Adding audience on Page details

Audience can be applied to a document on document details pane, document properties or from library quick edit view.

Tip!

If you want to apply an audience to multiple items at once, you can simply open a quick edit view and drag from bottom right corner of audience cell (like in Excel).

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