Leveraging Google Discovery Ads to drive targeted interactions

Leveraging Google Discovery Ads to drive targeted interactions
By Sean Shi
Sean Shi
Digital Media Buyer
Mar 15, 2022

Google Discovery Ads is an automated, multi-channel campaign that was introduced to the market in 2019 and officially replaced Gmail ads in July of last year. These ads show up in a potential customer’s Google Discover feed, Google’s news feed app, as well as their Gmail and YouTube, and are targeted based on the individual’s interests and search queries. As users personalize their feed by selecting topics of interest, AI enables the content delivered to be more and more relevant to the individual—by only showing what they want to see, consuming news becomes more engaging and efficient.

The ads are charged on a cost-per-click (CPC) basis and were designed to help advertisers drive conversions to achieve marketing goals, reach new customers, and reengage with the most valuable customers. Discovery Ads are intended to be visually compelling, native, and mobile first—fitting in seamlessly with the users’ feed.

Properly utilized, these ads can provide the following benefits to advertisers:

  • Reach more of Google with a single ad campaign. Advertisers can reach up to three billion people monthly on the YouTube Home and Watch Next feeds, Discover, and the Gmail Promotions and Social tabs
  • Drive engagement with richer, more relevant ads. Google’s Discovery campaign offers two ad formats: Standard Discovery Ads and Discovery Carousel Ads. With these ad formats, advertisers only need to provide Google with different ad assets such as image, headlines, and descriptions. The system will dynamically test ad variants to show different customers more customized messaging.
  • Increase campaign conversions through automated bidding options. “Maximize conversions bidding” and “Target CPA bidding” can optimize campaign bids to meet media marketing objectives. Google also uses its audience and its “Custom intent” technology to target and optimize audience performance based on search activity, video viewing history, and map data.
  • Remarket to existing customers in your database and website visitors. Discovery campaign is a powerful tool to reengage with your existing customers, or anyone who has visited a specific page on your website—across various Google properties. Moreover, you can further extend your reach to those who engage in similar online behavior to your retargeting audiences.

Whether it's on consumer or B2B campaigns, our teams found that Discovery campaign can drive higher conversion rates (CVR) at a much lower cost-per-acquisition (CPA) than Gmail ads. With this increased return on spend, businesses are able to optimize their investment. By monitoring and testing campaign performance, we found the following insights and best practices that can help your business maximize the gain your brand sees from the use of Discovery campaign:

  • Creative choices are important. Image selection plays a big part in the success of your Discovery ads and will be the first thing people notice. Make sure to choose high quality images (1200x628, 960x1200, and 1200x1200 pixels) that highlight the product or services to increase both brand/campaign awareness and engagement with your audience.
  • Text overlays on images are not recommended as their appearance can vary on different devices and create a less compelling experience for people scrolling through their feeds. Our experts recommend you test the best-performing images from your social platforms on Discovery ads to determine those that elicit the best response.
  • Leverage the learning from search copy and apply it to creating Discovery ad copy to better speak to your target audience efficiently and directly. Using a mix of native and promo-focused ad copy yields the best results with native ad copy working best for the Discover feed while promo-focused copy performs better for Gmail’s Promotions inbox tab.
  • Use audience performance on your other campaign types (social, video, search, and display) to find the best audiences (custom, affinity, and in-market) for your Discovery campaign. Start with your retargeting audience to help the campaign learn and then add in other types of audiences as you refine the process.

Discovery campaign has been an exciting development for advertisers with its unique and immersive ad format. However, without the proper set up and properly aligned creative, advertisers will not be able to maximize the benefit they receive from this tactic. Just like other digital tactics, there is no one-rule fits all. The whole process of gauging the success of a campaign will be testing and applying the learnings at the same time.

Applying these best practices from our team of experts can help marketers start to see positive results—the ads will start to drive more clicks or interactions; campaigns will reach more relevant audiences; the traffic from the discovery campaign to the website will likely improve; and, most important, the cost-per-action will become more efficient. Eventually, Discovery campaign will be able to maximize performance and help advertisers better deliver on their marketing goals.

ICF’s global marketing services agency focuses on helping your organization find opportunity in disruption.
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Meet the author
  1. Sean Shi, Digital Media Buyer
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