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Audience and content targeting planning (SharePoint Server 2010)

Published: June 24, 2010

Audiences are part of a User Profile service application that enables organizations to target content to users based on their job or task. Audiences can be defined by one or a combination of the following items:

  • Membership in a distribution list

  • Membership in a Windows security group

  • Location in organizational reporting structure

  • By public properties in user profiles

You can also target content by using SharePoint groups to target content in Web Parts.

This article describes the architecture of audiences and content targeting, and key decisions to make when planning the use of audiences for an organization. This article does not explain how to plan user profiles or how to plan security for sites and content. For more information, see Plan user profiles (SharePoint Server 2010) and Security planning for sites and content (SharePoint Server 2010).

security Security Note:

Do not use audiences as a substitute for configuring permissions for SharePoint users and groups. For more information, see Security planning for sites and content (SharePoint Server 2010).

In this article:

Prerequisites

Administrators should plan audiences as part of the user profile management system. Before you plan audiences, you should already have completed the following plans:

What are audiences?

Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010 supports two kinds of audiences:

  • Global audiences   Global audiences are defined by properties in a User Profile service application. Global audiences include audiences that are defined by relationships (reporting structures), as well as other properties.

  • Windows security groups and distribution lists   The Windows security groups that are available when you are creating audiences are those that are imported when user profiles synchronized with the User Profile service application.

    The distribution lists that are available when you are creating audiences are those that are imported when user profiles are imported into the User Profile service application.

    For more information about including security groups and distribution lists in the User Profile Service application, see Plan user profiles (SharePoint Server 2010).

note Note:

Although SharePoint groups can be used with Web Parts to target content, they cannot be used to define audiences.

An audience is defined by a collection of one or more audience rules and by whether all or only one of the audience rules must be met when evaluating membership. An audience rule can be based on membership in a Windows security group, membership in a distribution list, position in an organizational hierarchy, or by a user profile property. To define each audience rule, you must select an operand, operator, and value. An example of an audience rule based on membership in a Windows security group is as follows:

Element Value

Operand

User

Operator

Member of

Value

Sales

Once an audience has been defined, it must be compiled on a regular basis because the underlying user profile properties and membership in directory services and groups can frequently change. An administrator schedules the timer job that controls when audiences are compiled.

Planning for audiences

When planning audiences during initial deployment, the goal should be to find the smallest possible set of key audiences based on the following criteria:

  • An evaluation of the organization's content needs

  • The information architecture of the site and site collections

  • The users who are associated with each site collection

We recommend that you follow this process for planning audiences in an initial deployment:

  1. Record the central purpose for each site collection and site.

    In general, each site collection has a focused set of business processes that are associated with specific groups of users.

  2. Determine the smallest number of audiences that can enable you to target content as needed.

    You may want to start by identifying requirements in the existing environment. For example, existing working teams, cross-group projects, key business processes, and site structure may include groups of users that can be translated to audiences.

  3. Record all existing distribution lists and existing SharePoint groups, and map them to your audience needs.

  4. Identify additional audiences that must be defined.

    You may be able to create the audiences that you want from distribution lists, and Windows security groups. However, it is common to require additional audiences that are defined by user profile properties.

    Planning audiences may also help you find gaps in plans for user profiles and distribution groups. To support a specific audience, you may find that you need to add more profile properties or distribution groups.

  5. Identify additional SharePoint groups that must be defined.

    As you determine which Web Parts will target audiences or SharePoint groups, you may find gaps in plans for SharePoint groups. To support a specific target, you may find that you need more SharePoint groups.

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.

Planning for content targeting

In order to use audiences to target content, the User Profile service administrators and site administrators must decide which site elements will be used in each site. User Profile service administrators and site administrators should work closely together to ensure that they are providing a consistent experience for audiences across sites and site collections.

Once defined, audiences can be used to target content in the following ways:

  • For Microsoft Office 2010 client applications, a User Profile service administrator can define the links that display in the SharePoint locations, and set the audiences that each link is visible to.

  • On My Sites, a User Profile service administrator can set audiences for the My Site navigation links that appear on the top bar.

  • For My Site scenarios in which users must have access to one or more additional My Site host locations, a User Profile service administrator can manage a list of Trusted My Site host locations, and then target each trusted location to the audiences that need to view it.

    In an environment with multiple My Site host locations, audiences also determine in which trusted My Site host location a My Site is created.

  • In an environment in which a User Profile service application and audiences are configured, site administrators can use Web Parts to target content by audience.

  • Site administrators can use SharePoint groups to target content to Web Parts both in environments that are running a User Profile service application, and in environments that are not running a User Profile service application.

Targeting Office client application links

User Profile service administrators control the links that display in the SharePoint list in Office client applications when you are opening or saving files, and set the audiences that each link is visible to. By default, the same links to Office 2010 client applications appear for all users of the User Profile service application. Links become much more useful when they are targeted to audiences.

Examples of links that can be published to client applications include the following:

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

  • Data connection libraries.

  • Document libraries or document repositories.

Targeting personalization site links (My Site navigation links)

The links that are displayed on My Site pages in the top navigation bar (personalization site links) can be targeted to specific audiences. User Profile service administrators control the links displayed on the My Site navigation bar, and set the audiences that each link is visible to. In many cases, a link might be relevant for one group in an organization but not for everyone.

Targeting 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. User Profile service administrators for each service application manage a list of Trusted My Site host locations, and then target each location to the audiences of users who have to view those locations. In an environment with multiple My Site host locations, audiences also determine in which trusted My Site host location a My Site is created for a specific user.

Because trusted My Site host locations are processed in priority order within the list, users see the personalized information that is most relevant for the My Site that they are viewing. Additionally, personalization information is available even if individual service applications are unavailable. Deployments that have only one User Profile service application do not need this feature.

For more information, see Plan for My Sites (SharePoint Server 2010).

Target Web Parts

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

note Note:

Although SharePoint groups cannot be used to define audiences, they can be selected as audiences in the Target Audiences box.

Web Parts that are frequently used with audiences to target content include the Content By Query Web Part. The Content By Query Web Part can target content in the following ways:

  • Group results by audience.

  • Display list items from multiple hierarchical levels.

  • Display list items to specific audiences.

Another group of Web Parts that are frequently used with audiences are filters. Filters can be connected to other Web Parts so that they only display results based on certain properties, such as audience. Filters are often connected to business data Web Parts to enable users to target business data based on audience.

Example: Configuring audiences for a personalization site

Several users who report to the same manager use a site that provides a personalized view of key business data. To make site more available, a User Profile service administrator first defined an audience based on the User operand and the Reports Under operator. The administrator then created a personalization site link for the group that uses the site. As the site becomes more widely used, the User Profile service administrator makes the following changes, first verifying that membership in the audience is set to satisfy any (not all) of the rules:

  • When another group starts to use the site, a second audience rule is added based on the User operand and a different Reports Under value.

  • Users from a distribution list also begin to use the personalization site. To accommodate them, another new audience rule that is based on the User operand, the Member of operator, and the value for a distribution list that contains these additional users is added.

  • Later, the manager of a branch office requests that his staff be granted access to the personalization site. The administrator creates a new audience rule with the Property operand, by using the Office property.

  • Finally, the administrator is asked to grant access to the personalization site to all financial analysts. The administrator creates another audience rule, based on the Title property.

Worksheet

Download an Excel version of the SharePoint Products 2010 Audience and content targeting worksheet (http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/p/?LinkId=214814). Use this worksheet to plan for audience and content targeting.

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