The user decision process is changing. Rarely linear or limited to one channel or device, it is instead an ongoing journey of research and discovery, using text, image and video sources. The question for marketers is: how can we use this change in user behavior to our advantage? Enter Discovery Ads.
What are Discovery Ads?
Discovery Ads will show in three places; the Google Discover feed below the search bar on the app and in mobile browsers, on the YouTube home feed and the social and promotions folders in Gmail. Dispersed in feed, they are similar to adverts in social feeds such as Facebook and Instagram. Discovery ads are shown based on topics or brands users have shown an interest in across the Google network. Users can toggle the settings to see more or less of certain topics, follow them, or remove them altogether.
Discovery Ads On Discover, YouTube and Gmail
Discovery Ads essentially allow advertisers to target users while they are looking to discover new products or services with some of the key points summarised below:
Targeting – In-market audiences and custom intent audiences are likely to be valuable targeting methods for Discovery ads to capture users while they are in the research mode. Google uses clicks on related ads, subsequent conversions, along with site content and recency and frequency of visits to determine if a consumer qualifies as being currently in-market for a product or service. Furthermore, users have the option to see ‘less of’ or ‘more of’ different types of content in Google Discover so this helps to further improve interest targeting over time. Although these targeting options are nothing new for Google, the Discover feed and machine learning that will be applied to each individual makes this a more interesting prospect.
Ad Formats – Much like responsive search ads, Discovery Ads are automated, saving advertisers time. Discovery Ads allow multiple images to be uploaded at set up, and automatically displays the image most appropriate for the user. This increased scope for creative content increases a brand’s ability to tell their story, and more effectively engage and target passive browsers with their content. This also makes Discovery Ads particularly appropriate for industries that offer a wide variety of products or services such as the fashion industry, allowing the most relevant imagery to be shown to customers interested in a specific product category. At set up advertisers can enter up to five headlines and five descriptions to further test their best performing message.
Fabletics Discovery Ad On YouTube
The TechStyle Fashion Group: parent company to subscription fashion services Fabletics and JustFab, experimented with Discovery Ads when they were in beta-testing November 2018. Re-purposing existing image assets, the brand saw a 25% lower cost-per-acquisition using Discovery Ads compared to other channels. This shows that by using a variety of creative assets, Discovery Ads can be used to meet conversion-based goals at a lower cost.
Placements – Google goes beyond the Discover feed and can also show ads in YouTube’s mobile home feed, and in Gmail’s social and promotions tabs. As Discovery ads are designed to reach people when they are in the learning and discovery mode it is assumed they will also perform well in these placements although how this works out in reality from a conversion point of view remains to be seen. Over 90% of people say they discover new brands or products on YouTube. This also makes Discovery Ads appropriate for awareness-based campaign goals, considering their high potential to gain impressions from passive scrollers.
So, Should You Use Discovery Ads?
Discovery ads are not going to be for everybody but on paper they make sense for many brands. On the surface, it appears Google are trying to muscle in on news feed style advertising similar to Facebook and in many ways this is true. But there is a clear point of differentiation which makes the idea of Discovery ads very appealing. If people using Google Discover are there to look for new ideas, products and services while users scrolling through a social feed are more likely to be looking for updates from their friends, there is an argument that ads on the Discover Feed may be less disruptive than an ad on Facebook with potentially far higher CTR and Conversion Rates.