If you are using Audience to manage information displayed on your SharePoint, you may have trouble when you try to find or resolve the audience wanted, even if the audience is correctly set and compiled.
The following error message may appears during audience validation
“This entry cannot be validated. Exception “Object reference not set to an instance of object.” occurred”
or no results are found when looking for an audience with the error
“There were problems searching audience, please contact the system administrator.”
This is may be due to the fact the User Profile Service Application is not associated to your web application (especially if the association group IS NOT the default one).
To solve this issue, check if the User Profile SA has been correctly associated to the web application from the Central Administration site (Application Management\Manage web applications\<select the problematic web application> then click on Services connections)
Et voilà, problem solved