About target audiences

Supported editions for this feature: Business Standard and Plus; Enterprise; Education Standard and Plus; G Suite Business.  Compare your edition

Target audiences are groups of people—such as departments or teams—that you can recommend for users to share their items with. You can add them to users' sharing settings in a Google service, such as Google Drive, to encourage users to share items with a more specific or limited audience rather than your entire organization. 

Benefits for your organization

Target audiences provide users with another way to share their items, in addition to link-sharing with your entire organization or sharing directly with users or groups. With admin-recommended audiences, you can:

  • Improve the security and privacy of your data—Target audiences give users more control over how broadly they share their items. This can help improve the security of your organization’s data, and the privacy of a user's data, by reducing the potential for users to accidentally overshare their files or other items.
  • Make it easier for users to share appropriately—Target audiences can reduce your users' need to enter groups and specific users to share with and to respond to access requests. Instead, target audiences allow users to easily broaden access to items without worrying about security, since these audiences are approved by their administrator. Moreover, sharing with a target audience doesn't send sharing notifications to audience members, making these audiences convenient for broad sharing.

Availability of target audiences

Target audiences are currently available only for Google Drive and Docs. This feature will be available for other Google services in a later release.

How it works: An example

​​Target audiences provide an easy way for users to share items more appropriately. As an example, assume you want to create a target audience for your company's 3 regional Sales teams teams so they can more easily link-share Drive files with each other, without sharing them with your entire company.

Basic steps

  1. Create the target audience 

    Start by specifying the audience's name and description. For this example, you might name the audience “Sales Teams” and add a description, such as “Includes members of all regional Sales teams.” Your sales teams will see the name and description in their Drive sharing settings. For details, see Create a target audience.

  2. Add members to the target audience

    You can add groups or individual users as members. For this example, you would add all groups for your regional Sales teams as members. For details, see Add members to a target audience.

  3. Apply your target audiences to a Google service

    For this example, you’d go to your Drive sharing settings in the Admin console and select the parent organizational unit for the Sales teams to create a policy. Then you’d select the "Sales Teams" target audience for your policy and drag it to the primary (default) sharing option for Drive files. For details, see Set target audiences for a Google service.

User experience

When a user included in your target audience policy wants to provide access to a file in Drive, the primary target audience—in this case, Sales Teams—appears as the first link-sharing option in the “Get link” section of the file's sharing dialog:

Find a target audience under Get link

Users are encouraged to share with the Sales Teams audience. But they still have the flexibility to share with other available target audiences instead, or share directly with specific users and groups.

Users can also limit the ability to search for their files to just members of the target audience, by selecting the option in the link settings:

Allow only members of a target audience to search for a file

Before you begin

Review important information about target audiences

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How target audiences differ from other groups
  • You can use target audiences only as sharing options in users' sharing settings for a Google service—for example, link-sharing options for Drive. Unlike the other types of groups you can create, target audiences can't be used for any other purposes, such as mailing lists, forums, or configuring access to services.
  • You can't use target audiences as members of other groups or target audiences.
  • You can't specify owners and set group access options directly for target audiences. 
  • Users can't create or make any changes to target audiences.
  • Target audiences have benefits over regular groups for sharing with broad audiences. See "Benefits for your organization" above.
Types of groups you can add as target audience members

You can use any type of groups as members of a target audience, including:

  • Admin-created groups, such as security groups and dynamic groups (if included with your Google Workspace edition).
  • Non-admin-created groups, including groups your users create or external groups

For tips on using different types of groups, go to Best practices for deploying target audiences.

Which users can see a target audience's details

A target audience's name and description appear in a Google service's sharing settings for:

  • The users in your organization for whom you applied a policy with the target audience
  • Members of a target audience when an item is shared with them

    Important: If members are outside your organization, they can see the audience's details if you allow your users to share items for a Google service externally. In this case, make sure an audience's name and description don't contain sensitive or confidential information.

  • (Google Drive) Anyone with Commenter or Editor access to a file that has the target audience selected, even if they're not members of the audience

Note: Target audiences for a Google service don't appear in the Google Groups interface for users, at groups.google.com

Which items users can share with a target audience

Once you've created a target audience policy for users, those users can share any items they own with that target audience, such as a document in My Drive.

However, in shared drives, users can share files only with a target audience set for your top-level organizational unit.

How target audiences work with shared drives

Shared drives always get their target audience policies from your top-level organizational unit, not child organizational units. Note that if you create target audience policies for child organizational units, different target audiences might be available for files in users' My Drive as compared to files in shared drives.

Which admin privileges you need to manage target audiences

The privileges you need depend on what you want to do:

  • To create a target audience, edit an audience's details, add member groups, or remove members, you need the Groups admin privilege.
  • To add individual users as members to a target audience, you need both the Groups and Users > Read admin privileges.
  • To apply a target audience to a Google service, you need the Service Settings admin privilege or the settings privileges for that specific service. 

Tip: If you want a delegated admin to manage target audiences, grant them both the Groups Admin role and Services Admin role. Or, create a custom admin role for them with just the privileges you want them to have.

How to view audit logs for target audiences

You can view a record of target audience actions that users and admins performed:

  • To see user actions to create, update, and delete target audiences, go to the Groups Enterprise audit log
  • To see admin actions to create and delete target audience settings (policies) for a Google service (such as Drive and Docs), go to the Admin audit log.

    Note: For an Application Setting Change action, the Admin audit log currently shows a target audience's ID instead of its name.

Review best practices

In our best practices guide, you'll find recommendations for creating target audiences, adding members, and creating target audience policies. You'll also find examples of typical deployment scenarios.

See Best practices for deploying target audiences.

Next steps

Create a target audience

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