Google Discovery Ads

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Table of Contents

Google Discovery Ads – What you should Know

Google’s Discovery Ads are the latest display banner ad formats Google has to offer. Based on our experience at Rise Marketing Group, and in collaborating with Google on several campaigns, I’m seeing a strong amount of promise from these campaigns. Within this blog post I’ll break down what you need to know to take advantage of this ad format along with a few helpful tips, at the bottom of the post.

What are Discovery Ads?

Discovery ads are display ads (i.e. non search text ads), but what makes them unique are the following:

  • Discovery Ads are on premium owned and operated inventory across the Google properties. Whereas generic Display campaigns can serve on any website and app that monetizes through adsense, Discovery Ads appear on premium Google placements, including: YouTube, Gmail, and Discover. Discover is Google’s newsfeed, for anyone who has a pixel phone, they’ll know what this is.
  • Google uses great creative that’s easy to setup. You will upload varying amount of images and text, and Google will create very compelling, visually inspiring and engaging ads.  Below are sample renderings of Discovery Ads of sample ads we’re running for our digital marketing courses.

Which Audiences can you Target with Discovery Campaigns?

I really like that you can use the same audiences that you can target via other display or video advertising on Google. This includes, but not limited to:

  • In-market audiences
  • Custom intent
  • Affinity audiences
  • Content targeting
  • Remarketing

This can be very powerful, as you can target users based on what they’re searching on Google. Additionally, you’re reaching qualified audiences (based on what they searched), but you’re paying for these clicks on the cheap, as discovery ads are significant less expensive than Google Search Ads.

One aspect we’re testing at our agency, Rise Marketing Group, is custom intent, based on what users are searching on Google.

Why are discovery ads less expensive? It’s because with Google Search Ads, there is limited space to show an ad, for the query on the Google search results page, often leading to expensive CPCs.

For example, I’m currently running Discovery Ads for a Google Ads and Facebook Course I’ve created. As a test, I’m targeting users who have searched relevant terms on Google (i.e. Google Ads training, Google Adwords course, etc.).

Custom Intent Targeting

When thinking about custom intent audiences to create, consider users who have searched for your brand, those who have searched for your competitors, and users who are searching for products and services you offer.

What Type of Creative Assets are Required?

The beauty of discovery ads is it doesn’t take much to create some really compelling display ads. The full ad specs are published on this Google support article, but in short you need the following:

  • Headlines – up to 40 characters long. Recommend to upload up to 5 headlines.
  • Descriptions – up to 90 characters long. Recommend to upload up to 5 headlines.
  • Images – landscape and square (refer to the link above on specs)
  • Business name
  • Logo
  • URL
  • Call to action text (Google has predefined call to action text you can choose from)

Once you upload these assets, Google’s machine learning will kick into gear. Google will automatically assemble compelling banner ads, based on all of the assets uploaded. You want to upload a lot of assets, as Google will test different combinations against each other to find the best combination.

Once the ads are getting traction and have been running for awhile, Google will start to report the performance for each asset. Specifically, it will share assets that are ok, good and best.  Below is a snippet from Google, which explains the reporting.


The performance column ranks assets against other assets of the same type. It will show you which assets of the same type are:

  • Low, as in low performing against all other assets of the same type across properties
  • Good, as in performs well enough against all other assets of the same type
  • Best, as in one of the highest performers of all assets of the same type on one or more properties

With this data, you can keep the top performing assets, and remove the low performing assets, and potentially upload new assets to test against. This makes creative testing super easy and very data driven.

How do I create a Discovery Campaign?

When you create a new campaign, it will ask for the goal of the campaign (i.e. sales, leads, traffic, etc.), and then you can select “discovery”, underneath the campaign type. See sample screenshot below. From here, Google will walk you through the process to setup.  Additionally, here is a Google Support article on how to setup the campaign.

Discovery Campaign

A few helpful tips:

  • To maximize the performance of the campaign, make sure you have conversion tracking setup. Then, once you have conversion tracking setup, set a bid strategy that’s focused on conversions (i.e. maximize conversions). This will optimize campaign to drive more conversions, than just website clicks.
  • Test different audiences, to see which will work best for your business. My recommendation is to create out unique audiences by ad group. Over time, you’ll see which audiences perform the best, and you can cut the poor performing audiences.

Best of luck! Feel free to comment below to let me know how these are working for you.

Helpful Google Ads Resources

For more helpful resources, check out the blog posts and articles below.

Google Ads Support

Google Ads Management

Google Ads How to Guides

Google Ads Optimization Tips

Google Ad Formats
Ben Lund

Ben Lund

Ben Lund is a 14+ year digital advertising vet who founded Rise Marketing Group. Outside of managing his agency, he offers advertising courses on SkillShare and routinely shares his best practices on

Ben Lund

Ben Lund

Ben Lund is a 14+ year digital advertising vet who founded Rise Marketing Group. Outside of managing his agency, he offers advertising courses on SkillShare and routinely shares his best practices on

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Need More Advertising Help?

While I am sharing a good amount of free information through DIY Digital Strategy, if you need more help, feel free to drop me a line on my contact page, as my agency Rise Marketing Group helps clients of all sizes.
Even if you’re not interested in full service advertising management, I would love to hear from you! Ping me a line at and I’ll be sure to follow-up to see how I can help.