Google Discovery campaign ads on a mobile phone

Google Discovery Ad Campaigns Are Officially Here

Google Discovery campaign ads on a mobile phone

Google is always rolling out new algorithm updates. Some of the biggest, most recent ones over this past year (remember good old BERT?) were all geared toward improving Google’s ability to better understand user intent. Unsurprisingly over this past year, Google has also been working on a way to monopolize this data to make more money! 

Introducing Google Discovery Campaigns

Google originally introduced discovery campaigns in 2019 as a limited beta test and has now released this campaign type for advertisers globally. According to Google, this new campaign will allow advertisers to reach their customers everywhere they are in their moments of discovery, precisely when they are receptive to new brands. 

Being a Digital Marketing Specialist here at Top Draw, I hesitated to get too excited about this new campaign type. I had questions about it: Will this be like local campaigns, promising to bring in more store visits, and ultimately fail to live up to the hype? Will this be the golden magic unicorn to lead new customers to our client’s locations? 

Discovery Campaign Ad Formats

A screenshot of a Google Discovery campaign format

A screenshot of a Google Discovery campaign format

The ad formats for this new campaign include the Discovery Carousel which looks pretty similar to the carousel ads we know from Facebook.  Also, Discovery Ads are identical to the responsive image ads we have already had access to for the Google Display network since 2016.

Carousel Examples


Where Will Google Discovery Ads Run?

Advertisers can potentially have these ad formats show up across Gmail, YouTube, Discovery, and more. In Google’s typical fashion, the “discovery and more” part of the promise is not fully transparent. According to Google, we can expect to also see ads in Google apps, maps, and daily activities customers engage in on Google properties. What it truly means is anyone’s guess and Google has yet to clarify. If we were to speculate, it could be on Google Display, as they do not mention that, and perhaps we will start to see ads in our Google calendars, Google Drive, Google photos, or even our Google Hangout accounts.

Is There Any Advanced Audience Targeting for Google Discovery Campaigns?

The short and most accurate answer to this is “no.” The audience targeting for these campaigns will be identical to what already exists for Google Display campaigns. This includes having access to your own audience lists, custom intent, in-market, and affinity audiences.

How do Google Discovery Campaigns Differ from Google Display?

So what is the real difference between a regular display campaign and the new discovery campaign? At an initial glance – not much. Both give advertisers access to run responsive assets across Google apps, Google Display, and YouTube with the same targeting options. 

However, there are a couple of key things to note. Discovery campaigns allow advertisers to run creative in Gmail, which previously, could only be accomplished with a Gmail campaign. Plus, there are those fancy new carousel ads and the “daily activities customers engage in.”

Only time will tell if Google has put some extra juice behind the targeting and audience matching algorithms on the backend for Discovery campaigns. One thing is for certain, the specialists at Top Draw are testing this new campaign type out and we’re monitoring them closely for signs of success, failure, and how to further optimize them. We’re doing this because we want to fully understand them, determine if they are right for our clients, and implement them in the right circumstances so they are successful.  

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