Audience targeting provides ways to present content to those users most likely to be interested. It allows you to manage precious real estate on pages to best effect for user’s jobs and productivity.

Content can be limited to those to whom it would be of interest. i.e. financial news to managers, especially in Accounting, business trends to marketing, etc.

To set up Audience targeting, you need to define your audiences using Groups in Azure Active Directory. This is usually an admin task. This keeps your groups defined in one place and will usually match mailing groups you’ve already set up. Azure AD groups are primarily set up with security in mind rather than internal communication.

You can set up groups based on departments, function, projects, and other criteria within your organization. You could set up groups based on rules like “East Coast Marketing” using Department=”Marketing” and Region= “East Coast” for example. Keep in mind that adding users automatically to groups requires an Azure AD Premium license.

To activate Audience Targeting, merely enable it in the site pages library. You’ll find this under Site contents > Site Pages > Library Settings > Audience targeting settings.

When you edit a page with a news story and want only the east coast marketing group to see it, you click “Page Details” under “Audience” in the details panel. Just enable it.

In the page, edit the web part to target your selected group in the clearly labeled “Audience Targeting” section. You can even target a single user if you wish!

This is common in marketing on online sales sites as web parts or JavaScript boxes use complicated formulas to select what to show viewers based on user interest data gleaned from various sources they have previously viewed or purchased from.

However, this is not user customization. A user cannot personalize his/her experience by naming their interests. It is strictly for administrators directed by management to present the most relevant content to the right users.

Audience targeting has been part of SharePoint for many years in publishing sites. It is now more powerful and flexible than ever, but also a bit more complicated to set up. Still, this feature offers unprecedented ability to keep content focused within user interest and maximize page real estate for greatest efficiency and productivity.

Rob Moses is an expert with Office 365 and SharePoint with his company, Caladan Consulting where he has been building Content Management Systems and moving users to the cloud for 13 years. He has helped companies create roadmaps for best future growth and helped set up Best Practices for the most efficient and productive use of SharePoint within his client’s organizations. His great love is helping users master SharePoint and Office 365.

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