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.

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