We are creating campaigns using automation studio due to campaign complexity. However, in these campaigns we are trying to implement Target vs control population.

The issue is we can't use the random Data Extension in the Automation Studio as it cannot be refreshed like a filtered Data Extension - through a filter activity.

Anyone have a suggestion on how to randomly segment our audience without a random Data Extension? Thank you

2 Answers 2


I would suggest creating the dedicated flag (Boolean field; or number field, if you plan to have more than two segments) and populate it i.e. with SQL activity from Automation Studio.

Using that flag you could segment leads for those who are in target and control population.

Sample scenario:

If you want to have always 10 percent of population marked as the control group, you can additionally put one SQL activity in your automation, and make query something like:

'1' AS IsControlGroup
FROM [Data Extension] s WITH (nolock)

And set that query to update. It will take 10 percent of all subscribers that are in you DE, sort them semi-randomly and change the control group flag to true. The important part is to add to the query Primary Key of that table, to be able to update records.

  • Thank you for the suggestion. I will test it and let you know
    – Einstein
    Commented Jul 26, 2017 at 18:09
  • @Einstein No problem! I always feel great, if I can share my knowledge, especially in such painful topics like MC development. If is something unclear - do not hesitate to ask :) I will try to describe more clearly my idea. Commented Jul 26, 2017 at 18:13
  • 1
    You are awesome
    – Einstein
    Commented Jul 26, 2017 at 18:15


To ensure that queries are executed without blocking from other SQL updates, query activities use SET TRANSACTION ISOLATION LEVEL READ UNCOMMITTED. This is equal to WITH (NOLOCK). Using the NOLOCK query hint is unnecessary.

  • What is the syntax for using SET TRANSACTION ISOLATION LEVEL READ UNCOMMITTED ? Marketing Cloud isn't accepting the standard T-SQL syntax. Commented Apr 14, 2021 at 16:21

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