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Google Goes After Social With New Discovery Campaigns

Discovery Ads Are Finally Live Across YouTube, Gmail & Google Discover

Google advertisers might have noticed a welcome surprise in their ad accounts in recent weeks.

No, not the COVID-19 busting $1,000 ad credit Google has been touting, but a new, much-awaited campaign type, Discovery ads.

Announced at Google Marketing Live in 2019, Discovery ads have been in beta for some time and are viewed as a challenger to social media advertising.

Unlike traditional Google display banner ads, Discovery ads are designed for discovery (hence the name) as consumers browse their favourite content and feed-based experiences. Google's new ad formats rely on machine learning to build and showcase your assets across devices. Supposedly helping you spark customer interest and action with less effort and time.

Discovery ads are eligible to serve across the YouTube Home and Watch Next feeds, Discover feed on the Google Search app and in Gmail Promotion and Social tabs. Opening brand new ad inventory and opportunities for marketers.

In totting up all of the above Google surfaces, for the first time, you can reach up to 2.9 billion people with a single, easy-to-use campaign.

Discovery ads are similar, in principle, to how Facebook operates across its network incorporating Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger. With ads automatically being delivered via Facebook's machine learning to relevant audiences across the "family of apps".

Leveraging Google's Audience Data Treasure Trove

Google's new Discovery campaigns also share more than a passing nod towards Google's Shopping campaigns.

Both are highly automated in nature and rely on Google's understanding of audience and customer intent signals. But with Discovery ads delivering highly visual, personalised ad experiences geared towards audiences causally browsing, around the middle and top of the marketing funnel.

Not dissimilar to how Instagram Explore operates. Aiming to inspire and spark interest, to create audience demand.

Whereas search ads are triggered by a user's literal search engine queries, utilising direct response. More geared towards quick wins and translating search intent into business outcomes.

On the ad creative front, Discovery ads are more akin to the type of copy, content and campaigns run on Facebook and Instagram. As noted in the case study below for UGG.

Jerry Dischler, Vice President, Ads Platforms & Google Properties

"UGG used Discovery ads to promote its holiday gift guide, connecting with fashion-forward shoppers open to trying new products while scrolling through their favourite Google feeds.

The global lifestyle brand repurposed high-quality images from social campaigns, featuring popular products like its Classic Short Boot and Men's Neumel Chukka.

As a result, UGG saw a strong increase in the quality of its website traffic and a revenue return ten times its original ad spend."

Like UGG, if you're already running media campaigns for social or video, you can get started by simply shifting your creative assets and most engaging messages over to Discovery ads.

Unlocking the Google Discover tab

One of the most appealing elements of Discovery campaigns is getting access to run ads on Google Discover, which has reach north of 800 million users worldwide.

Discover can be a major traffic driver, sometimes outweighing Google search proper.

In October last year, Vogue, saw more traffic come from Google Discover than Google Search. Meanwhile, parent company Condé Nast, claimed that Discover is now responsible for 20% of its U.S. sites' Google-based traffic.

Discover is available to mobile users on the Google App, Android devices, and Google.com on all mobile browsers (when logged into a Google Account).

Previously known as Google Feed, Discover is a personalised feed created by Google that proactively serves relevant content to users.

While traditional search is more reactive, requiring users to input a query, Google Discover anticipates user behaviour to surface new and interesting content.

Getting Starter With Discovery Campaigns

Discovery ads are a campaign type within Google Ads Manager.

At present, they are supported by some ad objectives, but not all. Currently, the following ad objectives are supported: 'Sales', 'Leads', 'Website traffic', or 'No goal'.

According to Google, successful Discovery campaigns often start with reaching audiences that perform well on Search, Video, and Display, for example: existing customers, people who have already visited your website and prospecting users similar to your customer base.

Unsurprisingly, Advertisers that add custom intentcustomer matchremarketing, or similar audiences to their Discovery Ads have seen 81% higher conversion rates and 25% lower CPAs.

Once selected, there are two ad formats: Discovery carousel ads with multiple images and Discovery ads with a single image.

Discovery ads are responsive, meaning that Discovery ads serve combinations of headlines and descriptions automatically. Therefore, enter up to five headlines and five descriptions, along with your rich imagery and let Google's machine learning go to town.

Google already owns direct response with search ads. Discovery campaigns now allow it to also play higher up the marketing funnel, challenging social players for brand-building dollars.

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