Written by Sam Yadegar on Jan 26, 2022

Discovery campaigns offer potential access to billions of people across Google platforms to help you reach your goals.

Here, you’ll find:

  • What Google Discovery Ads are
  • Benefits of these campaigns
  • How to set up a Google Discovery campaign
  • Tips to optimize your Discovery campaign

Google never sleeps, y’all. 

Besides making continued improvements for users, the search giant is constantly creating and tweaking its advertising tools. One of those tools you may not be super familiar with is Google Discovery Ads.

While these ads are relatively new, many experts agree they’re worth your attention – and ad budget.

By exploring Google Discovery ads, you may be able to improve lead generation tactics and create demand from an otherwise hard-to-reach audience.  

Let’s take a closer look at what Google Discovery campaigns are all about.

outdoor carousel lit up at night

Google displays all of your images in a carousel format, allowing the user to browse the entire collection. (Image via Unsplash)

What are Google Discovery Ads?

Google Discovery Ads are a visually rich ad format. They appear in:

  • The Google Discover feed – This is where searchers can view the latest news, events, and other topics. In response to the user’s query, this highly personalized feed displays content that aligns with the searcher’s needs.
  • YouTube’s mobile home feed and “Watch Next” These highly visible spots are excellent for catching viewers’ attention and generating demand.
  • Gmail Placed in the Social and Promotions tab, Discovery Ads don’t look salesy or obtrusive. However, they still stand out from other ads in Gmail.

Google Discovery Ads are immersive and interactive ads. They’re designed to catch the prospects’ attention even if they aren’t looking for anything related at the moment.

Put another way, “rather than responding to a pre-existing demand, they generate demand,” according to The Drum.

YouTube is the second most popular search engine in the world. And with 90% of people using YouTube to discover new brands or products, Discovery Ads are excellent for lead generation purposes. Meanwhile, over 800 million people take advantage of Google Discover monthly, giving you access to a wide audience.

Google Discovery Ad formats

Google Discovery Ads come in two formats:

  • Image ads – a single image with a headline and description. You have to give Google several assets to work with. It will use artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) to create custom ads that suit users best.
  • Carousel ads – multiple images with a headline and description. In this variant, Google displays all of your images in a carousel format, allowing the user to browse the entire collection.

To place Discovery Ads in front of your target audience, Google uses the “power of intent.” Its bots analyze the user’s browsing history, web downloads, watched videos, and map searches to figure out whether they can benefit from your ad.

Bidding strategies

You can take advantage of two bidding strategies.

For “maximize conversions,” Google spends the campaign budget to maximize conversions. It automatically determines the optimal CPC bid. For “target CPA,” Google places ads that convert to meet your CPA goals. It avoids using ads that don’t convert.  

While this may not seem like many options, the approach saves time, allowing you to focus on other campaigns.

Benefits of Google Discovery Ads

It’s easy to overlook this ad type, since it does give Google a lot of control. After all, with Discovery Ads, you can’t select the delivery method, contextual targeting, ad rotation, or device targeting. Additionally, manual bidding strategies are off-limits.

However, this ad type comes with significant benefits as well. These include:

  • Excellent branding – You can get your ads in front of existing and potential audiences, helping them to get more familiar with your brand. 
  • Improved audience targeting – You can capture your potential prospects while they’re in search mode. In the Google Discover feed, users can manage their preferences, which gives you a better chance of reaching prospects with high conversion potential.
  • Automated ad formats – Similar to responsive search ads, you don’t have to worry about A/B testing your assets. Google’s AI and ML do it for you. While this somewhat reduces your control over the ad, it can also save you time and money.
  • Top-notch placement Discover Feed and YouTube are among the most useful places to put your ads. Unlike other Google Ad types, Discovery Ads unite several highly important placement options under one campaign.
  • Convenient ad specs – Discovery Ad parameters are similar to Facebook’s in-feed image ads. If you already have a Facebook Ads campaign, you don’t have to work on new assets, so setting up a Discovery campaign is easy.
  • Lead form extensions – Unlike Google Display Ads, Discovery has the option to add in lead form extensions, which is key for lead gen purposes. (However, this is only for single image ads and isn’t supported by carousel ads.)

Want to learn more about Google Ads from the experts? You’ve come to the right place.

How to set up a Google Discovery campaign

Setting up the Google Discovery campaign is relatively straightforward.

  • Sign in to your Google Ads account.
  • Click “Campaigns” and use the “+” button to select a new campaign.
  • Choose a marketing goal (website traffic, leads, sales).
  • Choose the Discovery campaign type (single image, carousel, or both).
  • Select target audience information.
  • Set up the daily budget and select the bidding strategy.

After you set up the campaign, you can move onto adding the right creative assets.

woman taking a photo of baked goods with a smartphone

Make sure to study the specs to avoid subpar images. Add as many as you can to help with your branding efforts. (Image via Unsplash)

Google Discovery Ads: Best practices

Once you create your Google Discovery campaign, consider these useful tips and practices:

  • Use high-quality images. Make sure to study the specs to avoid subpar images. Add as many as you can to help with your branding efforts.
  • Get creative with headlines and descriptions. Give Google something to work with when it’s designing your custom ad.
  • Work to rank higher on Google Discover. Make sure your landing pages are highly relevant – this will improve the Google Discovery campaign.
  • Take advantage of audience expansion. As Google explains, “optimized targeting can help you reach new and relevant audiences that are likely to convert. ”
  • Repurpose other Google Ads assets for the Discovery campaign.

Pro tip: Take advantage of the Carousel format to tell your brand’s story. As the user scrolls the cards, they can get to know your company. This can encourage higher engagement and bring more visitors to your website.

The takeaway

Google Discovery Ads are a useful ad format for advertisers who want to reach high-intent audiences, improve lead generation efforts, and work on branding. The campaign is easy to set up, especially if you already have creative assets in place.

If you find the budget to give these ads a chance, they can become a worthwhile addition to your marketing campaign.

Sam Yadegar

Sam Yadegar

Sam Yadegar is the co-founder and CEO of HawkSEM. Starting out as a software engineer, his penchant for solving problems quickly led him to the digital marketing world, where he has been helping clients for over 12 years. He loves doing everything he can to help brands "crush it" through ROI-driven digital marketing programs. He's also a fan of basketball and spending time with his family.

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