Overview of audience targeting in modern SharePoint sites

Overview of audience targeting in modern SharePoint sites

Audience targeting helps the most relevant content get to the right audiences. By enabling audience targeting, specific content will be prioritized to specific audiences through SharePoint web parts, page libraries, and navigational links. 

Where audience targeting can be enabled

  • Navigational links - promote links to specific audiences across the navigation of a site including hub and footer navigation.

    Important: Starting in April 2020, audience targeting for navigational links will be introduced to organizations that have opted in to the Targeted release program. This means that you may not yet see this feature or it may look different than what is described in the help articles. Eventually this feature will be available across all cloud environments.

  • Pages - target specific site pages to specific audiences in a page library

  • News web part - push specific news posts to specific audiences on the start page, in the mobile app, and in News web parts that have audience targeting enabled.

  • Highlighted content web part- dynamically display relevant content from a list or library to a page, site, or site collection.

Notes: 

  • Some functionality is introduced gradually to organizations that have opted in to the Targeted Release program. This means that you may not yet see this feature or it may look different than what is described in the help articles.

  • The site owner must enable audience targeting for site navigation. Once enabled, any site editor can target menu links to specific audiences.

  • Azure AD groups (including security groups and Microsoft 365 groups) are supported with the exception of AAD dynamic groups.

  • Publish (or republish) to save changes made to existing page content, page metadata, and audience targeting settings in order for audience targeting features to take effect.

  • There may be a delay in audience targeting features taking effect.

How it's set up

Use the following story and generic personas to understand how audience targeting works:

A business wants to personalize the viewing experience for SharePoint sites and hub sites for the largest departments in their organization. It's decided that audience targeting for navigation,files and news will be used to target specific audiences of the organization - marketing, human resources, and engineering. 

Audiences and roles:

  • Patti is the site owner of the Contoso Landings page

  • Megan works in marketing

  • Nestor works in human resources (HR)

  • Jerri who doesn't work in marketing or HR

Patti is the SharePoint site owner for Contoso Landings where news posts are contributed to her site regularly by people across different groups. She wants members of specific audiences to see the posts most relevant to them. Additionally, Patti wants to target specific pages and navigational links in the hub site.

Next, Patti determines which news sources, files in page libraries, and navigational links will be the most valuable to the different audiences in each department. Pattie uses Microsoft 365 groups to create groups for each department. Microsoft 365 groups also help Patti manage shared resources - like email, OneNote, and Planner - for members in each audience.

Then, she enables audience targeting following the steps below:

Step 1 - In Site Pages, she enables the audience targeting feature and then selects specific pages to target to different audiences. Here, you can see an Audience column in Site pages that confirms audience targeting is turned on and the specific audience content is being targeted to.

The Site Pages view for a SharePoint site owner or admin, showing News Posts that have been set with audience targeting

Step 2 - Patti enables audience targeting in the News web part on the Contoso Landings main page. Next, she targets a few news posts to each audience. Non-targeted news posts will be seen by all audiences. 

Step 3 - Patti enables audience targeting in the hub site menu and footer menu. Then, she targets links specific to certain audiences. Here, you can see navigational links confirming audience targeting is turned on.

Confirmation that audience targeting is on

How it's seen

The SharePointstart page, news on the mobile app, the News web part, and the header and footer menus now show filtered views.

Megan, who works in marketing, sees the two news posts targeted for the marketing group. She also sees the news post that was not targeted to any specific group. When she selects the hub site menu, she no longer sees links to the HR and engineering team portals. 

Screencap of the News web part of a SharePoint site, where posts have been filtered

Nestor, who works in HR, sees the two news posts targeted for HR, and the non-targeted news post. When he selects the hub site menu, he no longer sees links to the marketing and engineering team portals. 

Screencap of the News web part of a SharePoint site, where posts have been filtered

Jerri, who doesn't belong to any of the three target audiences, sees only one news post which is open to all audiences. When he selects the hub site menu, he no longer sees links to the marketing, HR, and engineering team portals. 

Screencap of the News web part of a SharePoint site, where posts have been filtered

Set up targeting for your audiences

Set up audience targeting for your site or hub navigation.

Set up audience targeting for pages in a site page library.

Audience targeting can be enabled in two web parts: 

  • Use the highlighted content web part to dynamically display relevant content from a list or library to a page, site or site collection.

  • Use the News web part to push specific news posts to specific audiences on the start page, in the mobile app, and in News web parts that have audience targeting enabled.

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