Google takes on Facebook: Introducing Google Discovery Ads


Introducing Google Discovery Ads

As two of the world’s giant brands have garnered the lion’s share of advertiser budgets, Facebook and Google’s costs-per-click have increased. So it’s very exciting that there’s a cheaper ad option from Google, called Google Discovery Ads.


What are Google Discovery ads?

Google Discovery ads are a visual ad format that look like a social media post. They act in a similar way to the Facebook feed/post ad. Ads include up to 5 headlines to test the best one, an image or swipeable carousel of images (up to 15 to test), a landing page url, your business name and an optional Call to Action button such as “Shop Now” or “Get Quote”.


Who can I reach with Google Discover ads?

The ad is designed to inspire passive browsers (those not actively searching for your product now, but who from past behaviour could be relevant) with engaging image creative, in order to bring qualified traffic to your website.

They enable ad targeting to people who match age or region demographics, those shopping online for your product, and people who have shown an interest in specific topics. Google’s Discover ads use machine learning, AI and target profiling to match and then grow audiences, pulling out the best combinations of your headlines, descriptions, and image creative.

Where do Google Discovery Ads show?

They are designed to catch people while they’re on YouTube, Gmail or using the Google app on a mobile phone. Google has created a “Discover Feed” that enables you to follow topics, so you can stay in the know about exactly the things you care about, and see more content that informs, inspires and entertains you.


How are Discovery ads different to Search ads?

Whereas search ads come up when you enter a query, Discover ads show to people based on their past site visitation, app downloads, Youtube videos watched and map searches. This means Discovery ads are more about brand awareness, for people at the top of the purchase funnel.


Because Discovery ads live in feeds, and not on search, your ad strategy needs to be different.

People in discovery mode are very open to new ideas, concepts, products and services, making Discover an ideal place to get in front of your target audience. Unlike social media feeds – where ads are an unwanted distraction from the real goal of seeing friends’ and influencers’ content – Google’s Discover feed is delivering content to people who want to be interrupted by new things that match their interests. After all, it’s the whole point of the platform.

But they are early in the journey – the first interaction – so you need to consider what you can do to take them further, and what else they need to know.  Gated downloads are good (fill in an email address to get an info pack). Then you can trigger some automatic emails using a customer relationship system like Zoho (talk to Rachel or Clova if you’re interested in knowing more about setting up Zoho).

Why has Google introduced Discovery Ads?

Google is contending with three fundamental shifts in search behaviour: the shift from answers to journeys; from queries to the queryless; and from the text-based to the visually-inspiring.


Discover currently reaches 800 million people globally. That’s not exactly on par with Facebook’s 2.3+ billion or Instagram’s 1 billion monthly active users, but it’s nothing to sneeze at, either. The thing I like most at the moment, is how cheap it is, compared to the other platforms.  I wouldn’t do this in isolation, but in combination with other strategies, it really is getting your reach out there for a low cost-per-click.

What type of ads can be placed on Google Discovery?

There are two main ad formats

  1. Standard (single image) Discovery Ads
    This allows us to test up to 15 images in square, and or landscape.
  2. Discovery Carousel Ads
    We can upload between two and 10 images to be used as cards in the carousel

How much to budget for Google Discovery ads?

Google has recommended no less than a ratio of 70% spend on search/shopping ads, and up to 30% on awareness (ads such as Google Discovery or Google Display). So if you market in say one region, and spend NZD$500 a month on search ads, you might try $150-$200 a month on Discovery or Display clicks (allow extra for help to set up the campaign for you).

If you market to multiple regions with a spend on search ads of $700-$1000 a month, you might consider $4-500 a month on Discovery ads.

If you have an important product launch coming up, for a service that is not so well known, you might try $1000 or $2000 for a 6 or 8 week campaign.

You could also run a campaign on social for a couple of weeks, and try a similar one on Discovery (similar budget but longer time frame), to compare performance.

Are Google Discovery ads worth it?

Often times, clients need a greater stream of new leads and more channels than SEO, Google search ad and social media provide alone.  At Alexanders, we have found Discovery ads are very cost effective for generating brand awareness (70% lower cost-per-click prices than the agency’s search campaigns) and for generating top-of-the-funnel traffic.

Bear in mind though, that because people viewing Discovery Ads did not type in a keyword search, they may not be so ready to buy yet.  So you need to plan a journey and offer some value-add or gated (downloadable) content, to capture the lead. That’s why search campaigns are more effective for lead generation. But not everyone who is a potential customer, is actively searching for your service. It’s good to widen the net a bit.

So far, budgets for Discovery Ads are coming from clients’ search and social budgets.

At the moment, it’s less competitive, so you can reach big audiences cheaply and without a lot of competition from other advertisers. I like getting on board early with Google’s new services, before they get pricey from lots of players.

How are Google Discovery ads different to Google Display ads?

Google Display ads are similar visual ads, but they are shown on Google partner sites. There are similar targeting options with the two. You can have a few more file formats with Display. Display ads let you have a clickable phone and location extension, but while you can’t have these on Discover, you can have a clickable lead form. You can run both at once.

What else do I need to do?

Your landing page for the campaign is critical. You need to answer their underlying need, and related questions, and offer something valuable in exchange for same email address or phone number. So we can help you plan a landing page as well as possibly a downloadable guide.

How long should you run a Google Discovery campaign for?

Can go indefinitely if your audience size is big enough, but I’d say a minimum of six weeks. The machine learning needs at least 3-4 weeks to hit its stride.

What kind of campaign ideas do you suggest?

Seasonal campaigns (Xmas, join a gym), launch a new product/service, catch people with a longer decision horizon so they connect early with your brand (construction), catch people with a problem that you solve but they don’t yet know how to solve it (sore back or neck – osteopathy).  Rachel is good with ideas and suggestions.

What’s the next step?

Make a time with Rachel to discuss how you could build your brand with Google Discovery. Good times to catch up in her diary are 10am – 1pm Tue, Wed, Thu or afternoons on Mon & Thu. Ph 3488 477 ext 1, or 021 556 560.



6 Proven Digital Marketing Priorities for 2022: which ones will you push?


It may be a new financial year for you. Or perhaps you’re wanting to be more proactive to put Omicron fear behind you, and leap forward with gusto – or at least be progressive!  How has marketing changed in 2022? What marketing strategies should you focus on?

To give you a few pointers, I’ve clustered some potential Digital Marketing Priorities for 2022 into six areas. Take a look and pick a strategy that you don’t have fully nailed.  Then choose two or three actions from the list to action.


Be Found

Has your business automated the way new prospects find you?

  • Claimed your Google My Business listing and added your category, posted product updates,
  • Obtained more ratings than your competitors, so you appear on the Google Map pack?
  • Ensured you can be found on Apple Maps as well as Google Maps?
  • Re-optimised your website pages for important keyword searches using the new question funnels (SEO has changed totally in 2022 compared to 2021)
  • Researched, created answers to questions so you come up for long tail “how does it work” and “how much does it cost” questions in the discovery phase
  • Created videos and short answers to questions so you come up in voice Searches
  • Installed Schema and Rich Snippets, marked up Videos, so your results can be shown in “People also asked” questions and product searches?
  • Listed in major portals who dominate your category e.g., Trademe, Eboss, ArchiPro, Houzz, Grownups,
  • Set up a Google Discovery Ad campaign (new) to use machine learning to expand your brand awareness and promote discovery?
  • Updated your Google Search Ads campaigns with image extensions so your ads are getting an improved click through rate?
  • Set up Bing Search ads?
  • Organised your merchant centre connection and enabled Google Shopping if you have ecommerce?

Be more relevant – connect

  • Do you review your product development every year and tweak your offering or create new products and services relevant to specific customer groups?
  • Have you defined and planned customer journeys to create content for different stages of customer readiness, to keep prospects moving through your funnel rather than escaping?
  • Have you updated your website, post designs and email newsletter templates, with contemporary design that shows you are with it (logo, videos, downloads)

Be more visible – build brand awareness

  • Content marketing strategy: Have you developed a calendar for compelling content and pushed this with a small ad budget in front of prospects?
  • Do your social campaigns lead prospects down a compelling path, with an incentive provided to capture contact details and get more info?
  • Have you explored Google Discovery ads – ideal for driving brand awareness?
  • Would Native Ads on news sites work for you, to escape ad blockers?
  • Do you understand how programmatic advertising uses machine learning to zone in on engaged prospects?
  • Could you utilise cost-effective digital billboards to build visibility for seasonal promotions, without the expense of printing & installing skins?
  • Why not use Google Display campaigns and video ads driving to landing pages with video and a sign up funnel for generating specific programmes?
  • Have you created an audience in Facebook of people who have visited your web site, so you can remarket to them in Facebook?
  • Reconfigure your email marketing to leverage your contact network and reactivate dormant customers

Be more convincing – demonstrate expertise

  • Do you need to plan some videos help keep people on page and capture attention in social media?
  • Less is more. Does your content need to be reduced into succinct, compelling messages?
  • Does your imagery connect with all your target markets including younger generations or will it scare them off with wrinkles?
  • Have you prepared “you may also be interested in” content that leads people through their journey and answers their “next question” to be ready to buy (based on customer persona and customer journey work)?
  • When it comes to face-to-face or online meetings and proposals, do you have a great presentation & up to date visuals or is it old hat?
  • What promotions, offers, and incentives can you provide to give people a reason to act now?
  • What gated content & whitepapers could you provide to incentivize sharing contact details to download and automate further steps

Be more efficient

  • Have you implemented CRM tools & automated email replies, to stand out, follow up or provide more detail?
  • Do you have a good CRM to keep in touch with clients (retain, reactivate, re-engage)?
  • Gated downloads to capture contact details
  • Have you set Analytics goals to track your drop off and attrition points so you can try alternatives and determine which work best?
  • Do you need help to implement Chat bot/Live Chat to ensure speedy customer service or answers at any time of day or night?
  • What actions do you have to retain and reactivate? Don’t lose your clients due to inaction. What does your email marketing plan look like?
  • Could you retain potential leads with Google remarketing to keep in front of people who have visited your website but been distracted
  • Could you expand your shop to Amazon/Facebook/Instagram/Trademe?

Be focused

  • How is your marketing plan looking? Prioritise your quarterly actions.
  • Be proactive, not reactive by preparing a Social Media Strategy so your posts and content are part of a bigger plan, not ad hoc
  • Guide your staff with a Social Media Calendar helping to clarify the focus for content each month
  • What are your Quarterly marketing goals for yourself + team?
  • Do you have enough inhouse resources to make this happen or do you need some part-time or professional help? Set aside enough time, team & approved budget to make traction
  • Not sure where to start? Work with mentors (like us!) to be accountable and keep momentum

Next steps

You might have a team you can delegate some actions to. On the other hand, they might be full, or you might like a little guidance as to which area you should focus on.

If you are not sure where to start, then a Marketing Plan could be a good starting point.

If you want help with the whole shebang, then talk to us about our monthly Digital Retainer programmes, starting at $1000/month.

If you have a good website but it’s not generating the leads you expected, Rachel specialises in “conversion optimisation”, turning it into a silent salesperson. Get her to do a review of opportunities. Discover user experience obstacles.   Google Ads (and Discovery campaigns) and Search Marketing could be good starting points.

If you have a website you are not proud of or would like to move into ecommerce, talk to us about web design.

If your Social activity is a bit ad hoc, then a Social Media Strategy or Content Marketing Strategy could be a good starting point.

No budget? Consider if you might qualify for some small business grants.

Want to use an inhouse person to keep costs down? Talk to us about mentoring and coaching or getting a Social Media Calendar for them to implement.

Got most things sorted? Explore with us the idea of a one-off project for chat bots, setting goals or dashboards in Analytics or customer journey mapping.

Did I miss something really important? Let me know and I’ll add it! There’s always something more we can do, to be proactive inside our business. Let me know if you’d like a coffee to chew the fat on potential directions (text Rachel on 021 556 560).