I work with a brand that has a large presence on social media but is always looking for new ways to acquire new customers and expand their reach on Google. Since they regularly use Facebook, we have access to lots of creative assets. We have dabbled in some display advertising before, but they were looking for something new to try.  The solution?  Discovery ads.  

What Are Discovery Ads?

Discovery Ads are a new opportunity to reach users in three different channels: Youtube, Gmail, and the Discover Feed.  Google states that these ads are ideal for driving sales, lead gen, new customer acquisition, and remarketing.  Google states that Discovery Ads can reach up to 2.8 billion people!

For this brand, we already had visually rich creatives to use, and our goal was new customer acquisition.  We decided to give it a go!  These ads are similar to responsive display ads in that we need to provide various assets, and Google does the rest.  You can also run single image ads or carousel ads.

Below is an example of the same discovery ad on YouTube, in Gmail, and in the Discover Feed (from this Google tutorial).

examples of youtube discovery ads

These wouldn’t be a good fit for a brand that must change the creative frequently due to ever-changing products in images or for campaigns with brand awareness objectives.

What Do You Need To Run Discovery Ads?

Here is what you will need to supply Google with in order to run these ads:

  • Headlines: Headlines can be up to 40 characters, and you can have up to 5 variations. These will show as the first line in the ad.
  • Descriptions: Descriptions can be up to 90 characters, and you can have up to 5 variations.  These are meant to provide additional context or details for your ad.
  • Images: You will need to provide square images, landscape images, and a square logo.  You can have up to 15 images for a single creative.  Make sure you select images that work well with any of the combos of ad copy that could be arranged.  Your images cannot have any CTA buttons or anything that resembles a button.  Google recommends having at least 3 square and 3 landscape images.  For carousel ads, you should have a minimum of 5 cards with the same aspect ratio.  
  • Landing Page URL
  • Call to Action (drop-down selection to choose from)
  • Business name (25 character max)

Aside from the creative assets, you will also need to have your ideal audience selected.  You still have the ability to create audience segments, just like with display ads, for similar audiences, custom intent audiences, in-market audiences, etc.  


For my client, since our goal is to get new customers, we are using images and ad copy that speaks to someone unfamiliar with our brand.  Our landing page also educates a user on the unique aspects of their brand.  We are testing out various audience segments to find our targeting sweet spot. 

The early engagement metrics from Google Analytics are positive. About 91% of the sessions are from new users and they’re spending an average of 1.5 minutes on the site. For a new site visitor, that’s not bad!

We will continue to swap out under-performing creative assets with new ones.  Assets are ranked on a scale of Low to Best.  You can access this information in the Ads & Extensions tab then click “view asset details.” 

You can track conversions in two different ways.  You can see a typical conversion when someone clicks on your ad then converts, or you can see a view-through conversion where someone sees an ad then converts directly on a website.  You can use automated bidding strategies or other bid/budget adjustments as well.  

Want to give Discovery Ads a go but are hesitant to invest in prospecting?  Check out Dan Rocklin’s blog post, Discovery Campaigns As A Part Of Your Remarketing Funnel.