What Is Discover, Where Did It Come From And Why Is It Important?

I thought Google operated on queries? Returning results relevant to what I have just searched for? Doesn’t the query come first?

Until last year yes, this would have been true. Recently however, the consumer journey is changing, moving towards an ongoing search for information, spanning multiple platforms such as Facebook and Instagram. Google have responded to this by making three fundamental shifts in the way they approach search; from answers to journeys; from queries to queryless and from text based to visually inspiring. Discover aims to address all of these shifts. Read on to find out how.

Where did Discover Come From?

Google Discover Display

Discover first arrived on Google in 2016 in a different format known as Google Now, made up of two components: The Feed and Upcoming. The Feed consisted of a series of cards updating users on their current interests such as the weather in the local area or their favourite sports teams. Upcoming updated users on personal commitments they had such as events or flights booked. The Now Feed displayed under the search bar in the Google App, and users could swipe to see their Upcoming feed.

Then in 2018 Google dropped the Upcoming side of Google Now to focus on The Feed, improving The Feed’s algorithms to better anticipate what was of interest and importance to users based on their history across the Google Network, and allowing users to follow their favourite topics.

What is Google Discover?

Finally, later in 2018, The Feed evolved again into Google Discover. Google Discover in many ways is similar to The Feed, however it features a few major updates. First the rebranding from The Feed to Discover signifies Google’s move towards providing queryless user journeys, and away from query driven usage.

Google Discover Display

Next, Google redesigned the Discover feed to not only look more visually appealing, but also to improve its usability and relevance to the user. This has been achieved by the addition of expandable topic headers, which clarify to the user why they are seeing a particular topic. This content may be entirely new, or older articles which are new to the user. Finally, content shown is adapted to the user at hand over time. For example, if Google gathers information from across the network that a user is learning to play guitar, over time musical pieces of increasing difficulty could be shown on Discover. This signifies Google’s move towards following consumer journeys, giving them the answer to their next question before they have even asked it.

Why is it important?

When Discover launched last year it was debatable if users would find it to be a smart intuitive use of technology, or a creepy invasion of personal preferences. It was also in question if users wanted a social media-like feed function from Google. Over 800 million users are using Discover each month which suggests it may be a powerful tool for brands and advertisers, especially with the introduction of Discovery Ads. As the movement towards journeys continues, it may be worth considering the Discover Feed as part of your digital marketing strategy.

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