Deer battle
Rachel Alexander31 Jan 2022

Google takes on Facebook: Introducing Google Discovery Ads

google discovery header

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.

google discovery 1

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.

Google discovery Image 2

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?          google discovery ads

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 discovery image 3

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.


magnifiercrosschevron-down linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram