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Best practices for deploying target audiences

This feature is currently available for the Google Drive and Docs and Google Chat services.

Supported editions for this feature: (Drive, Docs, & Chat) Business Plus; Enterprise Standard and Enterprise Plus; Education Standard and Education Plus; Enterprise Essentials and Enterprise Essentials Plus. (Drive & Docs only) Business Standard; Nonprofits; G Suite Business.  Compare your edition

These best practices provide tips, recommendations, and examples to supplement the instructions for the 3 primary steps you’ll follow to deploy a target audience.

For an overview of target audiences, see About target audiences.

When creating a target audience

  • Use a name that succinctly describes the membership of the target audience—The name can also help you identify which organizational unit or configuration group the audience is applied to. For example, if you’re creating an audience for your sales team on the East coast and the team is in an organizational unit named "Sales - East Coast," you might want to use that name for the target audience.
  • Describe the purpose of the target audience—The description helps users choose the right level of sharing. When sharing a file or link, users see the description when they point to the name of an audience.

Learn more about creating a target audience.

Best practices for adding members & managing groups

Add groups instead of individual users as members

Although target audiences help users share with specific people, they're intended to encourage broad sharing and collaboration in your organization. We recommend adding groups, such as for a department or larger team, as members rather than individual users. You can add any type of group as a member of a target audience, including groups you create in the Google Admin console, with APIs or another tool, groups users create, and groups created outside of your organization

 Consider how non-admin groups affect security & privacy

If you add non-admin groups as members of a target audience, membership of user-created or external groups can change at any time. For example, if you let users add external members to their groups, people outside of your organization might be granted access to files shared with the target audience. Before adding a non-admin group, consider whether it might affect the security or privacy of your organization's data.

Learn more about adding or removing target audience members.

Automatically update group membership

If your Google Workspace edition includes dynamic groups, you can use them to automatically manage users. For example, you can automatically update membership in groups when users join, move within, or leave your organization. Available in the Admin console or with the Cloud Identity API, dynamic groups help you reduce time spent managing group membership manually. Learn more about dynamic groups.

Keep groups secure

You can convert a standard internal group to a security group, which helps you regulate, audit, and monitor the group for permission and access control. Security groups are available with the Cloud Identity Groups API. Learn more about security groups.

Easily manage & sync groups 

Use the Admin SDK Groups API to create groups or manage groups that you create with other tools. You can also use Google Cloud Directory Sync (GCDS) to sync groups that you create in Microsoft Active Directory or an LDAP server with Google Workspace. Then, use those synced groups “as is" in target audiences. Learn more about Admin SDK Groups API and GCDS.

Best practices for applying a target audience

You can apply up to 5 target audiences to a Drive and Docs policy. Set the target audience that you want users to use most often, the primary audience—that is, the default link-sharing option that appears when a user opens their link-sharing options.

By default, a pre-defined audience, which includes all users in your organization, is the primary audience. To make an audience, you create the default option for users, and drag it to the top position in the list of audiences:

Drag a target audience to the Primary position.

For details, see Set target audiences for a Google service.

Common deployment examples

Expand all  |  Collapse all

Limit link-sharing to only employees

If your organization has both employees and vendors, you can use target audiences to make it easier for your employees to limit link-sharing with vendors: 

  1. Create 2 target audiences, for example, "Employees Only" and “Employees and Vendors." Make sure you add a clear description for each.
  2. Add all permanent employees to the "Employees Only" audience. You can create a dynamic group (if included with your Google Workspace edition) or use an existing group containing all employees. 
  3. Add all users in your organization to the "Employees and Vendors" audience. You can create a group containing all members of your organization and add it to the target audience. For details, see Add all your users to a group.
  4. Create a Google Drive and Docs sharing policy for the target audiences. You can apply the policy to all users or a specific organizational unit or configuration group. Make sure you set the “Employees Only" audience as the default audience by dragging it to the primary position.

Employees can now easily avoid sharing items with vendors. If needed, users can still share items with specific vendor users.

Deploy target audiences across multiple Google Workspace accounts

If your organization has multiple subsidiaries, each with their own Google Workspace account, you can use target audiences to recommend that users share their files across subsidiaries. For example, you might want your Human Resources department to share documents with all subsidiary organizations. Here’s how:

  1. For each subsidiary Google Workspace account, create a group containing all users. You can create a regular admin group or a dynamic group (if your Google Workspace edition supports them). Or, use your existing tools to create the group. 
  2. In the Google Workspace account for your parent organization, create a target audience and name it, for example, “All subsidiary employees." Then, add the groups you created in step 1 as members of this audience.
  3. Create a Drive and Docs sharing policy for the “Human Resources team" target audience. You can apply the policy to your Human Resources organizational unit or configuration group. Optionally, set the “Employees only" audience as the default audience by dragging it to the primary position.
Recommend progressively broader link-sharing options

To help prevent accidentally sharing information, you can create link-sharing options to let your users choose from narrow to broad link-sharing.

For example, assume your company has multiple business units. Each business unit works on different products, and multiple teams work on each product. Each teams’ members collaborate closely with each other as well as with other teams on some products. Occasionally, a team needs to collaborate across all other business units or teams, such as for executive reviews and yearly planning. Finally, on rare occasions, a team member needs to share information with the entire company.

Here are the target audiences you would set up for one team—in order of priority in your Drive policy—to help users prevent oversharing:

  1. Team ABC (Primary)

    Includes all users on the team

  2. Product Area

    Users in all teams under the  product area (including Team ABC users)

  3. Business Area

    Users in all product areas under the business area

  4. Company-wide

    All users in the company

Deploy target audiences according to your organization’s hierarchy

You can create and recommend target audiences based on your organization’s unique hierarchy of organizational units or configuration groups. For example, if your organization set up its hierarchy by job function and geography, here’s how you could set up target audiences for your Finance department in the UK, in order of priority in your Drive policy:

  1. Finance UK

    Users in the Finance department in the UK

  2. Finance Global

    Users in Global Finance (including Finance UK users)

  3. Company-wide

    All users in the company

Recommend how broadly to share across multiple secondary domains

If your organization's Google Workspace account includes multiple secondary domains, you can use target audiences to recommend how broadly users in your primary domain should share with the other domains.

For example, assume all employee accounts in your company are in your primary domain and all partner and vendor accounts are in secondary domains. If employees share with the pre-defined default target audience—which includes all users across all domains—they might be oversharing their files. You can use target audiences to help users limit their sharing with secondary domains. Here’s how:

  1. Create a target audience, for example, “Employees Only." Make sure you add a clear description.
  2. Add all employees in your primary domain as members of the “Employees Only" audience. You can create a dynamic group (if included with your Google Workspace edition) or use your existing tools to create a group containing all permanent employees.
  3. Create a Drive and Docs sharing policy for the target audience. Apply the policy to all employees in your primary domain. Make sure you set the “Employees Only" audience as the default audience by dragging it to the primary position. Setting this audience will move the pre-defined default audience to the secondary position in employees’ sharing options.

Employees can now avoid sharing items with vendors. If needed, users can still share items with all users across all domains. Partner and vendor users can continue to share broadly with the entire company.

Create broad target audiences for discoverable spaces
Currently, all discoverable spaces in Google Chat reside in your top-level organizational unit, so you can create only one target audiences policy for all your organization's spaces. Because all users in your organization have the same target audiences to choose from when sharing spaces, you might want to create a set of audiences that represent broad, key areas of your organization, such as:
  • Major departments
  • Product lines
  • Office locations
  • Subsidiary organizations
  • Business purposes, such as internal-only and external guest access (partners, vendors, and so on)
  • Supervisory level, such as managers and non-managers


Google, Google Workspace, and related marks and logos are trademarks of Google LLC. All other company and product names are trademarks of the companies with which they are associated.

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