I have looked into this issue and whilst I understand that a distribution group won't be imported into SharePoint via user profile import security groups however will. I have a security group that is used for audience targeting and also setting permissions, inside that security group is another security group with all the members. However none of the members of that group are appearing in the audience membership list. Seems the only way I can get this to work is by adding the actual user account to the top level security group.

I have seen this setup on another farm and it works just fine.

  • Hmm just to add to this I have noted that the top level group has been set as Domain - Local
    – pigeon
    Commented Jul 21, 2011 at 1:35
  • Looking over at this post Domain - Local groups are probably the cause of these issues: social.technet.microsoft.com/Forums/sr-Latn-CS/…
    – pigeon
    Commented Jul 21, 2011 at 2:17
  • Did you ever find the solution to this? If yes, could you post the answer?
    – Kit Menke
    Commented Jul 29, 2011 at 20:38
  • In the end the customer added accounts directly to the SharePoint security groups.
    – pigeon
    Commented Dec 1, 2011 at 5:19

2 Answers 2

  • Sharepoint 2010 doesn’t like ‘Distribution Groups’ to be used for security or audience use – needs to be security global or universal

  • Audiences seem to only compile users from the group specified in the rule, it won’t look inside nested groups and include those users, so the nested groups need to be added directly to the audience

  • For web part audience targeting you need to use the Audience or the Domain Group but not the SharePoint group.

  • I've successfully used Audience targeting with SharePoint groups. However, the users were directly placed in the groups (not nested under an Active Directory group). Another note: Audience targeting is stored in a three-part string, Groups, Users, and something else each go into their own part; and each part has its own delimiter.
    – Zarepheth
    Commented Feb 7, 2017 at 22:50

I just got this to work in SP2013 on premise. You have to create a global audience and compile it (check the membership to make sure all your users are there). If your members aren't showing in your compiled global audience, that's likely because you are not synching the appropriate OU in your sync connection. Fix that and try again.

Use the global audience to trim the navigation link - or whatever else you're trying to audience target.

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