What Discovery Ads Are and Why You Should Use Them

While consumers once picked up their phones to search for a product or service, many today rely on personalized feeds to help them discover brands long before their official search begins. This style of discovery is an almost passive activity on the consumer’s side. While browsing the news, watching a YouTube video, or checking their email, consumers will rely on the ads and content embedded in their journey to discover new brands.

Not only are customers open to finding new brands this way, but according to Google, 85% of people say that they will take action, such as comparing prices or making a purchase, within 24 hours of discovering a product.

One way to reach customers early on is through discovery ads. These ads help you reach potential customers in the earliest moments that they might be open to learning about your business. Find out what discover ads are and why your business should use them.

What Are Google Discovery Ads?

There are numerous ways that a consumer might find you online. Your business is probably already investing in multiple channels of engagement. For example, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) allows you to reach customers organically. These customers are already searching for your brand, services, or products through a Google search. You might also be investing in Display Ads, which are an excellent tool for increasing brand awareness — again relying on consumer search.

However, to reach customers that might not be actively searching for your brand, product, or services, Google Discovery Ads can become a crucial part of your overarching strategy.

The significant difference is how Google Discover Ads are surfaced. Google uses audience and customer intent signals paired with machine learning to surface your ads in a personalized experience across online feeds. According to Google, their Discovery Ads allow you to reach up to three billion customers. The goal is to showcase your brand to consumers who are ready to discover but aren’t actively searching.

Discovery Ads are also highly visual. They utilize imagery, headings, and content to engage with customers early in the discovery stage of their purchasing journey.

Where do Google Discovery Ads appear? Your ads could be surfaced in the following areas:

YouTube Home

On the YouTube home page, Discover Ads are intermixed with video suggestions as part of YouTube’s personalized feeds.

Watch Next feeds

Consumers pick and choose videos to watch, so their feed becomes further personalized. This creates the Watch Next feed. Here, Discovery Ads are intermixed with video suggestions, adding to the customized feel of the ad.

Gmail Inbox

At the top of a Gmail user’s inbox are Discovery Ads that appear to be another email. Upon clicking through, a user is taken to a Google Discovery Ad with visuals and a call to action.


Once called the Google Feed, Discover is a personalized and curated feed of content across the web. Discover Ads appear alongside articles, videos, and other online content within this feed.

The Features of Discovery Ads

The idea behind Discovery Ads is that they make it easier to reach customers at scale. Instead of manually setting up multiple campaigns that you manage, you enter the building blocks for your ads. Google’s machine learning then puts these elements together to create customized ads based on the customer who will see them. You’ll upload images, logos, and headlines when you set up Discovery Ads. You’ll also set a bid goal and budget. From here, these elements will be combined in countless ways to create compelling Discovery Ads that target customers ready to find your products or services.

Critical features of Discovery Ads that make them different than standard Display Ads include the following:

  • It’s a natural experience. Google Discovery Ads reach people in their daily feeds. By surfacing in YouTube feeds, news feeds, and Gmail inboxes, these ads feel like a natural part of the online browsing experience. This helps solidify your brand in the minds of consumers.
  • Machine learning does the work. Once you add your content to your campaign, Google uses machine learning to build and showcase the best ads based on each customer. This helps blend your ads into the consumer experience and creates a visually rich style of advertisement. It also means less work for you.
  • Engagement is higher. Creating engagement with your ads can often be tricky when building brand or product awareness. The highly personalized approach of Google Discovery Ads can show relevant ads to customers when they are most likely to be interested in your brand. This way, Discovery Ads perform better when attempting to reach new customers.
  • Bidding is automated. Once you set your performance goals, your Discovery Ad campaign will adjust automatically. You can toggle numerous settings within your campaign to optimize your bidding and meet your objectives. This allows you to spend less while earning more leads.

What Are the Benefits of Discovery Ads?

Discovery Ads have numerous benefits, and businesses of any size across any industry can use them. These ads can benefit young brands that need to increase awareness about products and services. Some of the benefits of Discovery Ads include the following:

Less Intrusive

Most ads are jarringly different from the content a user currently consumes. For example, a pop-up ad is an intrusive experience that consumers don’t always appreciate. However, because Discovery Ads are Native Ads, they blend into a consumer’s feed. This makes them feel less abrasive and encourages natural engagement.

Precise Audience Targeting

Google Discovery Ads allow you to target customers with specific interests. You can also use in-market audiences for advertising key services and products that these customers are most likely interested in.

Discovery Ready

One of the critical strengths of Discovery Ads is that Google only surfaces these ads to people deemed ready to discover and engage. Most ads are not optimized in this way. While a Display Ad is excellent for driving general awareness, a Discovery Ad is there to drive engagement.

Reach a New Audience

Google Discovery Ads make this possible when your brand wants to tap into a new audience segment. These ads help you reach customers who might not be actively searching for your product or services but would be open to hearing about your brand.

Learn More About Customers

With Google Discovery Ads, you can learn more about your customers. Once you begin running Google Discover Ads, you’ll be provided with detailed reports that showcase what specific images, headlines, and combinations perform best. This can help you adjust other online ads based on what you discover resonates best with your customers.

When You Should Put Discovery Ads into Use

There are numerous reasons why you might decide to funnel some of your ad budgets to Discovery Ads. The following are all scenarios in which you might determine Discovery Ads are the right fit for your brand:

  • You want to increase a specific conversion metric. For example, if you are currently working on a campaign to improve service sign-ups, you could use Google Discovery Ads and other campaigns to scale up your strategy. By targeting audience segments you might not otherwise reach, Google Discovery Ads can drive your campaign forward with a much greater reach.
  • You want to reach new customers that match specific criteria. Rather than spending money on ads targeting anyone and everyone, Google Discovery Ads will allow you to create a personalized ad experience for a specific consumer base. This can help you reach a particular customer base that might be difficult to reach through other methods.
  • You want to understand more about what visuals and headlines perform best for your brand. With Discovery Ads, you’ll gain detailed insight into what elements of your ads work best for your brand. This information is invaluable and can help you optimize your digital marketing strategy.

How to Set Up Discovery Ads

If you want to try Google Discovery Ads, getting started is simple. You’ll begin by creating a new Campaign in your Google Ads account. You’ll choose a marketing objective, such as “Website Traffic” or “Sales,” and a conversion goal. Setting your goal is essential, as your ads will automatically be optimized based on that goal. From here, you’ll choose Discovery Campaign and begin setting up the parameters around your budget. You can select both your bidding strategy and your average daily budget. After this, you’ll be able to add audience segment targeting options. This includes custom intent audiences, your data, and in-market segments.

Next, you’ll set up the content for your ads. You can repurpose this content if you already utilize social or video media in other ad campaigns. You’ll provide Google with your business name, logo, URL, multiple headlines, multiple descriptions, a call-to-action, and high-quality images. Google will automatically combine these elements to create native ads across their proprietary platforms, such as YouTube, Gmail, and Discover.

Now you’ll begin running your ads. Google will continue to optimize your ads as the platform learns from consumer behaviors.

Need Help with Discovery Ads?

If you are interested in setting up Discovery Ads, our team is here to help. We have assisted our clients in creating hugely successful Discovery Ad campaigns that expand their brand reach. We will be happy to work with you to determine the best strategy based on your business and objectives. Reach out today to learn more about how Discovery Ads can help drive revenue and decrease marketing costs.

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