SharePoint 2010 + SP1 + December 2011 CU

User Profile Service is configured to sync only with AD and all appropriate permissions configured and profiles being imported successfully.

According to Audience and content targeting planning on Technet, if User Profile Service is configured to sync with Groups and Distribution lists, any synced groups/DLs can be used when selecting a Target Audience

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.

My experience so far has been that some DLs will work, but some will not. That is, when a user selects some DLs in the Target Audience picker, they will resolve and save correctly. When selecting some other DLs, they will not resolve immediately, and when I do resolve them, and save the list item/web part properties, then go back to edit it again, the audience isn't persisted. Almost like it saved fine, but didn't actually save the audience.

This issue is similar to what is described here: http://social.msdn.microsoft.com/Forums/en-US/sharepointgeneralprevious/thread/714e81a2-c8f7-4c1f-a37a-b105eb0d6a0b

Interesting point about "groups having restrictions in AD", but I can find no official guidance/documentation about this behavior.

Am I incorrect in my understanding that with User Profile Service connected to AD, we should be able to set AD DLs and/or groups for Target Audience fields/properties? Assuming this is correct, what would be causing some to resolve and save, but others to not?

  • Did you find a solution to this? We have the same problem in our SharePoint farm. It does not seem to be related to AD groups settings however. We have one Audience in our Production environment that cannot be saved, just as you describes. This Audience has an Audience rule based on a user property. I have created another Audience with the same rule in the same farm, and this one work!?! Br Heidi Lillebuen Jun 4, 2013 at 10:51
  • Brian, did you resolve this issue. Aug 9, 2013 at 3:40
  • Not yet guys. Sorry.
    – Brian
    Oct 30, 2013 at 12:08

2 Answers 2


I've come across similar issues when the DLs where Scoped at Universal instead of Global. I'm not sure if that is something you can change but it's worth a look.

  • Interesting thought. I checked. I identified a handful of DLs and added them to my target audience field for a list item. Some of them resolved. Some didn't, as I suspected. I looked at one that did resolve and one that didn't. Both were DLs and BOTH were "Universal" scope. Good thought, but doesn't appear to be the issue in my case.
    – Brian
    Mar 21, 2013 at 17:44
  • DLs definitely cause issues with sharepoint security. They appear as groups, but dont have the effect.
    – Russell
    Jan 9, 2014 at 7:26

Not sure if this is solved or still active (it says active).. I'm a little curious of what will happen if you use Security Groups instead of Distribution Lists? Is there also a difference between Universal or Global Security Groups?

Knowing what MS recommends when using Security Groups or Distribution Lists in Exchange is that you shouldn't use Distribution Lists for File Share or Access Control Lists on Shared Resources (Calendar, Conference Room etc), and the other way around don't use Security Groups to distribute email. This is more of a guess, if later versions of SharePoint makes a difference between the groups as well?

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