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You’ve probably been served a Google Discovery Ad or you’ve heard that they’re Google’s next big advertising placement, but what exactly are they and what benefits do they provide marketers? In this blog we’re going to explore exactly that and let you know exactly when you should use Google Discovery Ads, discuss the various targeting options and offer some creative best practices. Ready to get stuck in?

What Are Google Discovery Ads?

Launched in 2019, Google Discovery Ads are mobile-only in-feed ads that appear across three Google environments:

  • The Google Discover Feed
  • YouTube’s Mobile Homepage and ‘Watch Next’ Feeds
  • Within GMail’s Social and Promotiontabs

Unlike other Google ad-types, we can reach all of these placements within a single campaign.

In appearance, Google Discovery Ads resemble Facebook’s in-feed ad-offering, featuring a static image or swipeable carousel – useful to showcase different courses, products, or tell a visual story – accompanied by the brand’s name and logo, a headline, description, and call-to-action button.

In Google’s own words:

“Thanks to Google’s audience and customer intent signals, this campaign type helps you deliver highly visual, inspiring personalised ad experiences to people who are ready to discover and engage with your brand – all through a single Google Ads campaign.”

In 2018, Google announced that it’s next chapter would be driven by ‘three fundamental shifts’ each of which underpins the features of Discovery Ads.

Benefits of Google Discovery Ads

  • According to Google, Discovery Ads offer a global reach of around 2.9 billion, exceeding that of Facebook (2.1 billion).
  • Google Discovery Ads cover multiple placements within a single campaign, rather than covering YouTube with a video-only campaign, then GMail with a display-only campaign.
  • Google uses machine learning to deliver Discovery Ads, utilising it’s unique understanding of customer intent, using signals Google derives from consumers’ past site visitation, app downloads, videos watched and map searches. This means that you’re able to show more relevant, meaningful ads to people when they’re most interested and ready to learn about your brand, products and services.
  • Once ad copy (5x headlines, 5x description lines) and creative assets (click here for the full specs) are uploaded, Google will then optimise the best performing combinations using machine learning.

  • In terms of ad specs, they are almost identical to that of Facebook in-feed image ads, meaning that you don’t have to develop a brand new set of assets or copy for Google Discovery Ads. In practice, anyone running Facebook ads could set up and run Google Discovery Ads almost instantly, as long as you don’t exceed the character limits for Discovery Ads with existing copy, and that your existing image files are high res.
  • Google Discovery Ads have a native look-and-feel. They follow the same formatting as other organic ‘cards’ within Google Feeds, blending into the environment without disrupting the user experience.
  • Automated bidding options help meet media performance goals. You can use the Maximise Conversions bid strategy or Target CPA optimise your campaign bids in real-time to help meet your objectives.

When to use discovery ads:

Google advises that the three best times to use Discovery Ads are when:

  • You are seeking to push conversions
  • You want to reach new customers
  • You want to reconnect with customers

Targeting options:

In addition to the standard targeting options of age, gender, location and language, Google Discovery Ads allows you to go even deeper:

  • Detailed demographics
  • Life events
  • Affinity audiences
  • In-market audiences
  • Custom intent
  • Keywords
  • Website visitors
  • Customer lists
  • Lookalike audiences (modelled upon first-party data)

Creative Best Practices:

In terms of creative best practice, these tips will help you to get the most out of your Google Discovery Ads campaigns:

  • Use high-quality images (1200 x 628 and 1200 x 1200) that inspire people to engage with your brand. High-quality images tell a more engaging story about your products or services and are more likely to inspire customer action.
  • Use the single-image and multi-image carousel options with both square and landscape images. Discovery campaigns automatically select the image option and size that lead to the best performance across each property. For single-image Discovery ads, add at least five square and five landscape assets within the same ad. For carousels, add at least five images. They’ll be shown in the order that you upload them, so consider telling a story across your images rather than simply showing a mix of products.
  • Highlight information about your product and offerings, like promotions, within your headlines and descriptions. Promotions and discounts spark interest and help motivate customers to complete purchases.
  • Only capitalise the first word and proper nouns in your headlines and descriptions. Use sentence casing in your creative, rather than all caps, to provide a more organic and authentic ad experience.
  • Ensure that your campaign is set to use the same language as your creative. You wouldn’t want to serve a German ad to Spanish-speaking users!
  • Last but not least, images shouldn’t contain elements that suggest interactivity. See the example image below.

So you’ve read all about Google Discovery Ads, the benefits of them and how you can utilise them, sounds like a no brainer right? If you’re interested in finding out more about the next generation of advertising on Google or want to implement them in your current ad campaigns, get in touch with one of our paid media experts today to find out how we can help.


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