How to enable and use audience targeting for SharePoint pages and news

Note: This article pertains specifically to SharePoint Online (M365).

Audience targeting can be used to surface relevant information and resources to specific groups of people throughout SharePoint. This post will focus specifically on enabling audience targeting on your site’s pages and news so that you can create individualized experiences for users based on their identity or role.

The overall process consists of three steps:

  1. Enable the audience targeting ability for all content in your Site Pages library.
  2. Specify the appropriate audience(s) for specific pages/news items within the library.
  3. Modify any existing web parts (news or highlighted content web parts) to enable audience targeting (simply meaning to utilize any audience targeting configurations that have been specified for the content surfacing in that web part).

Step 3 is not required if you only wish to have audience targeting “seen” on the SharePoint start page, mobile app, or other non-customized areas where news may surface.

How audience targeting works

If you specify an audience for content, it will be shown in relevant areas (SharePoint start page, mobile app, news or highlighted content web parts using audience targeting, etc.) to members of the audiences only. This is not a security feature – the content is still discoverable by other users – just not surfaced upfront conveniently for them.

If you are a member of an audience specified on a news piece, you’ll see that news wherever it’s being called up. If you’re not, you won’t see it but can still search or browse to find it.

If no audience is specified for an item, it will be shown to all users. Or if a web part (such as a news web part) has disabled audience targeting, any specified audiences on individual pieces will be disregarded and the content will be shown to all through that particular web part.

Here are the detailed steps to set up audience targeting:

Enable audience targeting for Site Pages (and news)

1. Go to your Site Contents > Site Pages library

2. Select the settings gear > Library settings

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3. Choose Audience targeting settings

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4. Check the box for Enable audience targeting and then click OK.

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Specify an audience for SharePoint pages or news

1. Now return to your Site Pages library and select a page or news item to which you wish to add audience targeting.

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2. Open the details pane (i icon) in the upper right

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3. In the Properties section, enter up to 50 M365 Group names, user names or emails, etc. to whom the selected content should be targeted. Notice it also adds the specified audience in a column in the library. Your additions are saved automatically.

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Modify web parts to utilize audience targeting where available

1. Edit the page on which you’ve placed a news or highlighted content web part.

2. Click the edit icon (pencil) on the particular web part for which you’re enabling audience targeting.

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3. In the Filters section, toggle Enable audience targeting on.
(Note: News source must be This site or Select sites. Recommended for current user doesn’t have audience targeting settings).

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4. Republish your page when ready.

This can take some time to fully update in your site, so check back after a while to confirm functionality.

After completing these three sections, you’ve now

  • allowed content within the pages/news library to be used in audience targeting scenarios,
  • chosen specific pieces to which you’ll apply audience targeting,
  • and modified the web parts where content will surface to utilize those pieces’ audience settings when appropriate.

Check out this article for more information on SharePoint audience targeting, including more than pages and news.

4 Replies to “How to enable and use audience targeting for SharePoint pages and news”

  1. I think it’s important to call out Microsoft for disabling audiences based on SharePoint groups. Last time I checked, SharePoint groups are required for SharePoint sites. In many organizations, setting up Active Directory security groups is not so easily done. Microsoft should have continued to allow SharePoint group audiences until they were ready to move away from SharePoint groups.

    1. SharePoint team sites use Microsoft 365 groups exclusively (no need for SharePoint groups) but can also use SharePoint groups when you want to add view-only permission, for example. Communication sites can use Microsoft 365 groups as well (optionally), or SharePoint groups. When it comes to audience targeting, you can use Azure Active Directory groups (including security groups, Microsoft 365 groups, and AAD dynamic groups) as noted at

      While I understand it’s not always easy to create new Microsoft 365 groups in an organization (as many restrict that ability for governance purposes), it is important to become familiar with the existing groups, overall infrastructure, and partner with admins to make sure groups exist for audiences to be used for targeting.

      1. That is not actually correct. Team sites can use an Office 365/AD/Security group or they can be created without one. Team sites still require the use of SharePoint Groups as this is the method of controlling security. Security being the key word because audience is a form of control based on ones ability to access components (lists, libraries and page controls). Yes, you can insert a AD/Security group into a permission group but that does not alter the fact that SharePoint Groups are embedded in the site. There is no reason to prevent the use of SharePoint Groups as an audience until such time as Microsoft eliminates SharePoint Groups entirely. I followed the link above, and it does not spell out the distinction you make regarding team vs. communication site, however you are 100% right in this regard. Would it surprise you to know that even Microsoft people who did not understand this distinction? Unfortunately, I cannot shift my team site to communication nor can I find a clear explanation of the specific differences. Most importantly, what functionality is lost with a communication site. Anyway, thank you for helping me get a clearer picture.

        1. My apologies, I didn’t mean to say that you can’t use SharePoint Groups for team sites – you certainly can and I often do when adding different permission levels beyond edit and full control. But modern team sites are typically built on Microsoft 365 groups these days by design and their default SharePoint Groups for members and owners simply show the M365 group’s name with members and owners as a member of each, respectively (though you can’t see the specific people in this case).

          I’m not sure why SharePoint Groups can’t be used for targeting at this time, but I can see how that could certainly be useful.

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