Google Ads Discovery Campaigns: What, How, and Why

Google Ads Discovery Campaigns: What, How, and Why
Example Discovery ads for lifestyle retailer UGG

Everyone wants to see conversions from their Google Ad campaigns whether it’s a purchase through an e-commerce store or lead generation for  service-based business. But before you can get a conversion, you need website traffic, and you need traffic from people likely to convert. Depending on your business and your sales cycle, sometimes you will need more campaigns that reach people at the top of the funnel and not just ones that focus on an immediate sale.

With Discovery Campaigns, you reach passive consumers with mobile-optimized visual ads. You don’t bid based on keywords, like a traditional search campaign. Instead, it’s targeted towards audiences based on their internet search behaviors. Google considers what topics people searched for or videos they watched to determine if they are part of the audience that wants what you’re advertising. These ads appear on Google’s Discover feed, YouTube feeds, and in Gmail ads. It’s a way to reach people through Google advertising in a place other than google.com.

Think of it as similar to people scrolling through their feed on Facebook. That’s a time when people are open to discovering something. It’s the same concept with Discovery, reaching passive consumers in your target audience. So while they’re not actively searching with keywords, Google has still identified them as potential customers.

Since they are part of a high-intent audience (per Google), this is a group more inclined to engage with your brand when they see your ad. Although Google does some behind the scenes voodoo, you still have the option to create targeting based on demographics, affinity (interests), in-market (close to buying) or remarketing (previous site visitors). 

If you write a lot of site content, you may show on Discover organically. According to Google, “Content is automatically eligible to appear in Discover if it is indexed by Google and meets Discover’s content policies.” There are no special tags you can add to your content, and even if you do everything right, it doesn’t guarantee you’ll show up. Similar to an SEO content strategy, focus on writing content that appeals to people.  Google wants to see expertise, authority, and trustworthiness. 

Like most things Google, I encourage people to at least try it out. You don’t have any long-term commitments with campaigns, so you can turn things off if it doesn’t work. Don’t overthink it or spend hours of staff time debating it. Try it and see if it works. You may not get a ton of conversions, but getting your target audience to your website at a low cost is worth something.