SharePoint audience targeting – Everything you need to know

In this SharePoint tutorial, we will discuss SharePoint audience targeting. Also, we will see how to enable audience targeting for site navigation in SharePoint Online modern site and classic SharePoint site.

Also we will discuss the below things:

  • SharePoint online audience targeting quick launch
  • enable audience targeting for site navigation
  • SharePoint online enable audience targeting for site navigation
  • SharePoint audience targeting vs permissions

What is SharePoint audience targeting

SharePoint audience targeting means when you are targeting content to a specific group of people or audience. SharePoint audiences are groups of people.

Example: If there are a few useful links that we want to show to a relevant HR group of people, then we can enable SharePoint target audience for navigation and configure the links to display only to the HR group.

Where we can use audience targeting in SharePoint

Now, let us see where we can use audience targeting in SharePoint.

  1. SharePoint Navigation Links: We can enable audience targeting for site navigation in SharePoint Online or SharePoint 2013, SharePoint 2016, or SharePoint 2019. The navigation links can be the quick launch or top link bar in SharePoint.
  2. Web Parts: Most of the SharePoint web parts support audience targeting.
  3. SharePoint list and Library Items: SharePoint lists and libraries items or documents supports audience targeting.

SharePoint navigation audience targeting

Now, let us see how to implement SharePoint navigation audience targeting. The audience targeting we will do in SharePoint Online quick launch navigation. The same way it will work in SharePoint on-premise versions like SharePoint 2013, SharePoint 2016, or SharePoint 2019.

SharePoint online audience targeting navigation – classic site

Let us first check how to enable audience targeting navigation for SharePoint Online classic site.

First of all make sure to create a SharePoint group for the same, you can also use your existing SharePoint groups.

Here you can see, I have created a SharePoint group and only one user in the group.

sharepoint navigation not showing
sharepoint audience targeting

Now to implement SharePoint Online target audience for the navigation links, open the SharePoint site -> Click on the gear icon -> then click on Site settings.

Then in the site Settings page click on Navigation that is under Look and Feel like below:

sharepoint navigation audience targeting
sharepoint online audience targeting

Then navigate to the Structural Navigation: Editing and Sorting section and under Current Navigation select the link for which you want to enable target audience.

Then click on Edit… link like below. This will open the Navigation Heading, there in the Audience, enter the SharePoint group name.

sharepoint online enable site navigation audience targeting
sharepoint online enable site navigation audience targeting

Now if you logged in with a user who is a part of the group (Bijay in this case), the Documents link will be visible and if you logged with a user who is not part of a group, can not see the Documents link from the quick launch.

audience targeting in sharepoint online
audience targeting in sharepoint online

This is how we can implement, audience targeting in SharePoint online navigation.

SharePoint modern navigation audience targeting

Now, let us see how to implement SharePoint modern navigation audience targeting.

Open the SharePoint Online modern site, then click on the Edit link like below. Here we will try to implement audience targeting for the Documents link.

sharepoint modern navigation audience targeting
sharepoint audience targeting navigation

This will open the Edit navigation box, where you can add, edit, remove, or re-order SharePoint navigation links. Here, Select ON, to Enable site navigation audience targeting. Then Click on and then click on Edit for which link you want to enable audience targeting. Here we will enable the target audience for Documents link.

Enable site navigation audience targeting
Enable site navigation audience targeting

Once you enable audience targeting for the modern sharepoint site navigation link, you can see an additional field, Audiences to target like below. Here enter an Office 365 group, it will not take the SharePoint groups. It should be Azure AD groups (including security groups and Microsoft 365 groups). You can check out an article on what are Office 365 groups.

Here I have selected the SPGuides Members group.

how to enable and use audience targeting
sharepoint online modern site navigation audience targeting

Then click on OK. Once you click on OK, you can see an audience icon like below, which indicates that this particular. link, we have enabled audience targeting. Then click on Save.

sharepoint online modern site navigation audience targeting
sharepoint audience targeting settings

Now, when you logged in with a user who is a part of the group, can be able to see the Documents navigation link. But the user who is not a part of the group, will not be able to see the links in the modern SharePoint site navigation.

sharepoint navigation target audience not working
modern site target audience

This is how we can enable audience targeting for quick launch in modern SharePoint Online site.

SharePoint audience targeting for SharePoint list or library

Now, let us see how to enable audience targeting for a SharePoint list or document library.

Open the SharePoint list or library, and then go to the library or list settings page. There click on Audience targeting settings from the General Settings.

SharePoint audience targeting for SharePoint list or library
SharePoint audience targeting for SharePoint list or library

Then it will open the Enable Audience Targeting where it will ask to enable audience targeting checkbox. (For SharePoint Lists)

SharePoint audience targeting for SharePoint online list
sharepoint audience targeting settings

For SharePoint Online modern document library, you can either choose to Enable classic audience targeting or Enable audience targeting like below:

SharePoint audience targeting for SharePoint online library
SharePoint audience targeting for SharePoint online library

Once you Save, for each item, once Audience column will be added where you can select the Office 365 group or Azure AD group like below:

SharePoint audience targeting for SharePoint online document library
SharePoint audience targeting for SharePoint online document library

This is how we can enable audience targeting for SharePoint Online library or list in modern site. The same approach can be followed for the classic SharePoint sites.

SharePoint Online audience targeting for web parts

SharePoint also allows audience targeting for SharePoint Online modern as well as classic web parts.

To enable audience targeting for web parts, open and edit the modern page.

Then edit the web part like below:

sharepoint audience targeting web part
sharepoint audience targeting web part

Then in the web part properties, you can see the toggle button to enable audience targeting. But here you need to make sure, in the source also, you need to enable audience targeting.

For example, in this case the news are store in the Site Pages library as individual pages. So we need to also enable audience targeting there.

SharePoint Online audience targeting for modern web parts
sharepoint online audience targeting web part

This is how we can enable audience targeting for the SharePoint web parts.

For a classic SharePoint web parts, Edit the web part and then in the web part properties, under Advance you can see the Target Audiences and there you can enter the SharePoint group name.

If an user is a part of the SharePoint group, then the user can see the web part in the SharePoint web part page else the web part will not be visible to the user.

SharePoint Online audience targeting for classic web parts
sharepoint 2013 audience targeting web part

This is how, we can do, sharepoint online audience targeting web part.

SharePoint audience targeting vs permissions

First of all, we should not use SharePoint audience targeting for security control. Because even if you enable and configure audience targeting, then the user who knows the URL can access the content easily from the browser itself.

SharePoint audience targeting cannot be used for permission, it never prevents the user from navigating to the particular content in the SharePoint site.

You may like the following SharePoint tutorials:

This is how we can enable SharePoint audience targeting. We checked here,

  • What is SharePoint audience targeting
  • Where we can use audience targeting in SharePoint
  • SharePoint navigation audience targeting
  • SharePoint online audience targeting navigation – classic site
  • SharePoint modern navigation audience targeting
  • SharePoint audience targeting for SharePoint list or library
  • SharePoint Online audience targeting for web parts
  • SharePoint audience targeting vs permissions
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