Plan for audiences

Applies To: Office SharePoint Server 2007

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Topic Last Modified: 2016-11-14

In this article:

  • About audiences

  • Plan key audiences

  • Worksheet

You use audiences to group the users in your organization so that you can personalize information to ensure that it is as relevant as possible. From the Manage Audiences page for the Audiences Shared Service in Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007, you can create and manage up to 10,000 audiences and use them to target content in all of the site collections that use that shared service.

When planning audiences during initial deployment, you want to identify a small set of key audiences based on your evaluation of content needs, your information architecture planning, the structure of your site collections, and the users associated with each site collection.

About audiences

Before planning audiences, you should understand how audiences are defined. Audiences are defined by Shared Services Provider (SSP) administrators in the Application Management page for the core services of the server farm providing the Audiences Shared Service. There are three types of audiences:

  • SharePoint groups   You define SharePoint groups by associating each group with a set of permission levels for each site collection, and then adding members to groups based on their user accounts. Administrators create new SharePoint groups during initial configuration and deployment. Audiences based on SharePoint groups target content to users that are members of the selected groups. SharePoint groups used for audiences can be specific or general, but should be built from sets of users specific to the needs of the business processes and audiences relevant for each site collection.

  • Global audiences   Global audiences are audiences based on the properties of user profiles, which are managed by SSP administrators. Global audiences target content to users based on properties in their user profiles.

  • Distribution lists and security groups   Distribution lists can be created by different users in an organization, depending on the policies of each organization. Audiences based on distribution lists target content to users who are members of the included distribution lists.

The properties of distribution lists and security groups used for audiences must be imported from Windows security, and mail servers and directory services, such as Microsoft Exchange Server, Active Directory directory service, and Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP). These properties, including distribution lists, are imported when user profiles are imported. For more information about user profiles, see Plan for people and user profiles.

The properties in user profiles and their underlying sources change frequently. To ensure that audiences remain current, SSP administrators must compile audiences. They schedule compilations regularly to update audiences, and might also compile audiences at other times if necessary. Compilation settings and scheduling for audiences in Office SharePoint Server 2007 use the Microsoft Windows SharePoint Services Extensible Job Service.

Plan key audiences

Because audiences are built on other administration features, good planning for audiences is a multi-stage process that includes planning for all of these features. The basic steps to plan are:

  1. Plan for Windows security.

  2. Plan for user profiles.

  3. Plan for distribution lists and SharePoint groups.

  4. Plan for sites and site collections.

  5. Plan for audiences based on groups, distribution lists, and properties in user profiles.

Complete the first four steps before you begin planning for audiences. When you start planning for audiences in an initial deployment, you will record all distribution lists, SharePoint groups, and the central purpose for each site and site collection. Then, you consider how best to group all of that information to create a relatively small number of audiences that reflect the important groups within your organization based on all of these criteria.

We recommend that you consider creating additional SharePoint groups that are planned with audiences in mind. Each site collection will generally have a focused set of business processes associated with specific groups of users, and custom SharePoint groups can be used to define each audience as precisely as possible in combination with existing SharePoint groups, Windows security, user profile properties, and distribution lists. By the end of the audience planning process, you should have a list of audiences that meet the needs of the groups of users who are using each site collection.

Audience rule Description

User profile properties

These include a logical operator that is used to evaluate the property.

Reporting structures

These are recorded in the user profile and are visible by default in My Site Web Parts.


These are in a source group, such as a distribution list or a Windows security group. Memberships are also displayed by default in My Site.

You can also create audiences directly from distribution lists or SharePoint groups, without including them as audience rules.

You typically will have a natural starting point when you create audiences. For example, your existing working teams, cross-group projects, key business processes, and site structure include groups of users that can be easily translated to audiences by using audience roles based on user profile properties, reporting structure, or membership.

Audience planning can also identify potential improvements in planning for distribution lists, user profile properties, SharePoint groups, and reporting structure. If you want to target some users as a group and there are not existing SharePoint groups, distribution lists, or user profile properties, it is a good idea to plan for adding those groups, lists, or properties.

Worksheet action

Use the People, profiles, and policies worksheet ( to record planned audiences as you identify them. Record all planned content targeted to each audience. Record any underlying distribution lists, groups, and properties of user profiles that must be added before you create audiences.

Plan content targeting to audiences

Creating audiences is only half of the story. You make use of audiences to target content, to highlight relevant information for the right users, and to reduce the presentation of irrelevant information to the wrong users.

You target content in the following ways:

  • By list item or Web Part.

  • By using Trusted My Sites host locations.

  • By using the My Site navigation bar to target personalization sites.

  • As part of the discovering servers feature.

  • By filtering Web Parts by audience.

Target by list item or Web Part

Any Web Part can be targeted to a specific set of audiences by adding those audiences to the Target Audiences text box in the Advanced section of the Web Parts tool pane.

Audiences can target content to users in many ways by using different Web Parts. One of the best ways to target content in site collection pages is by using the Content Query Web Part.

The Content Query Web Part is provided by default for certain SharePoint template pages, such as portal site areas and team sites, and can target content in the following ways:

  • Group results by options or audience, and is often used to target both by Web Part and by list item.

  • Display list items from multiple hierarchical levels, and includes better rendition of audience information.

  • Target specific list items to specific audiences by using the Content Query Web Part. Then, even when those list items appear in Web Parts or pages, only the individual list item is targeted and not the entire page or Web Part.

You can also target content in My Sites to audiences by using several different Web Parts. For more information about those Web Parts, see Plan for personalized Web Parts.

Target by using Trusted My Site host locations

In some scenarios, such as a global deployment with geographically distributed shared services, some users can have access to one or more My Site host locations. In these scenarios, SSP administrators for each SSP manage a list of Trusted My Site host locations across all SSPs, and then target each location to the audiences of users who need to view those locations.

Trusted My Site host locations are processed in priority order within the list so that users see the personalized information that is most relevant for the My Site that they are viewing, and personalization information is available even if individual SSPs are unavailable. During the initial deployment, this should be fairly straightforward. In most deployments, there is only one SSP and no need to configure this feature.

Worksheet action

Use the People, profiles, and policies worksheet ( to plan for and record Trusted My Site host locations based on the number of SSPs in your deployment and the need for users to see personalized information across SSPs.

For more information, see Plan My Sites.

Target by using the My Site navigation bar

My Site links to personalization sites in the My Site navigation bar can be targeted to specific audiences. Links are added to the My Site navigation bar by SSP administrators. In many cases, a personalization site might be relevant for one group in your organization but not everyone. The SSP administrator can target links so that they appear only for users for whom the personalized content in the site is relevant. For more information, see Plan My Sites.

Just as personalization sites can appear on the My Site navigation bar based on targeting of the personalization sites on the personalization links list, it is possible to target the links on the Links Published to Office Applications page. This list, available from the User Profiles and My Sites section of the Shared Services Administration page, is used to include links to Office Server sites from Office client applications. Examples of links that show up in client applications include:

  • Sites, including team sites, portal sites, and project workspaces.

  • Data connection libraries.

  • Document libraries or document repositories.

For example, if a personal site directory is added to this list, that location is provided as a choice whenever someone shares a document from an Office client application. This enables users to use the same personal site from multiple client computers. Similarly, data collection libraries added to the list show up in the Microsoft Excel client, and document libraries show up whenever saving documents from any Office client application. By default, links to Office client applications appear for all users in the SSP. Those links become much more powerful when they are targeted to users who most need them, so that users only see the personal sites, data connection libraries, and document libraries relevant to their own work.

When planning the initial deployment of Office SharePoint Server 2007, consider each of these kinds of links. Plan to add links to cover sites, data connection libraries, and document libraries for all the site collections by using the SSP.

Worksheet action

Use the People, profiles, and policies worksheet ( to record each of the links and the relevant audience for each link.

Filter by audience

A group of Web Parts known as filters can be connected to other Web Parts so that they only display results based on certain properties. The exact properties available vary from filter to filter, but one of the available options is to filter by audience. Filters are usually connected to business data Web Parts, so this allows you to target business data based on audience. Unlike simple Web Part personalization, the audience property passed by the filter to the business data Web Part can be used in relatively complex business analysis or calculations when displaying results.

Filters are commonly used in dashboards and report-enabled sites, such as the Report Center site, but they can be used on many kinds of sites, including personalization sites. For more information about filters, see Plan dashboards and filters.


Use the following worksheet to plan for audiences:

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