Google Ads has a plethora of strengths when compared to other advertising platforms. The ability to target users as they are searching for specific keywords with Search campaigns is the most obvious and, oftentimes, most effective. Expansive audience creation tools and a massive display network on Google helps brands stay top of mind across millions of websites. And YouTube continues to accelerate its growth and become an ever more attractive option for advertisers who want to tell stories with motion and sound, and reach audiences on one of the world’s biggest platforms. But for all of these strengths, Google Ads has historically lacked a truly visually appealing, ‘social media-like’ option for its advertisers, falling short in its quest to compete with other advertising platforms such as Facebook Ads. That is, until Google Discovery Ads arrived.
What are Discovery Ads?
Made available worldwide in May 2020 but a few months earlier in the US, Discovery Ads are a new campaign type and ad placement option within Google Ads that enables advertisers to place image ads on some of the top placements online, including Gmail, Google’s Discover Feed, and, perhaps best of all, the YouTube Mobile Homepage.
Taking aim at social media advertising platforms, Discovery Ads consist of large image assets, headlines, and short description text that take users to a destination URL, or can open into a lead form similar to Facebook Lead Ads. Additionally, Discovery Ads also feature a carousel ad type options.
Unlike the Google Display Network’s clunky, invasive, and oftentimes easily ignored, Discovery Ads give advertisers the ability to tell stories with visually engaging assets and better image placements.
Is it clear that Google is aiming for social media advertisers?
Benefits of Discovery Ads
In our testing (more on this below), Discovery Ads have been proven to be a cost-effective branding solution on an advertising platform that has historically lacked good branding options (unless you have stellar video creative).
All three of the placements available in Discovery Ads have one thing in common – they are owned by Google. This means that there are advanced audience creation and targeting options available, including Custom Intent audiences created using recent searches on Google, that are not available in other campaign types.
While it’s still possible to create custom audiences for other campaign types like Display, only campaign types with placements entirely on Google-owned properties, such as Discovery and YouTube campaigns, have the availability to create Custom Intent audiences that are built using the exact search terms recently searched on Google. On other campaign types, the search terms used to build the custom audience will be referenced as interests or purchase intentions, instead of the actual search term.
For this reason alone, Discovery Ads have a massive benefit over traditional display ads on Google, particularly when it comes to prospecting. Instead of visually prospecting by targeting affinity groups, interests, and website placements, we can create our own very targeted custom audiences that we know have been recently searching for our targeted terms on Google.
In addition to these awesome audience targeting options, Discovery Ads give advertisers without video assets the opportunity to advertise on YouTube – one of the most sought after placements in online advertising. More specifically, as mentioned above, Discovery Ads offer placements on the YouTube Mobile homepage, an ideal spot for reaching your ideal audience for branding or retargeting campaigns.
How we use Discovery Ads at Tuff
At Tuff, we’ve been testing Discovery Ads throughout 2020 for a variety of our partners and have implemented these campaigns at both the prospecting and retargeting level. Below is one example of recent PPC strategies that Discovery campaigns have featured largely in. You can find another example in our article about YouTube Advertising in 2020.
Using Custom Search Term Audiences To Reach New Users
In early September, we had the opportunity to help online vintage watch auction startup, Dial + Bezel, officially launch their website and brand. With the launch of the website came the launch of all of the marketing strategies.
As a brand new company without any revenue, we knew we had to be cost conscious when it came to targeting and acquiring high quality traffic to the site.
Initial search campaign tests showed high CPCs over $3.25, and although bounce rate and pages/session for these new users wasn’t bad, the traffic simply did not have the conversion rates we needed to justify the CPC.
With these early results in mind, we went back to the drawing board and posited that leveraging Custom Audiences created by search terms that we knew our target audience would be searching would be an effective way of reaching more of our target audience for a lot less. This proved to be the case.
To start, we performed extensive keyword research with SEMrush to identify more search terms that we could leverage to build our Custom Audiences. We were able to identify three key ‘themes’ of high volume search terms that we segmented to create three Custom Audiences.
Early results were very positive and we saw on-site performance that was on par with, or better than, the search campaigns we had previously run. Even better – the CPC of the Discovery campaign was less than 10% of the Search campaign, meaning we can get 10x the traffic for the same cost AND the traffic converted.
What You Can Expect from Discovery Ads
In short, if done properly, you can expect to receive cheap CPCs and high quality traffic.
Since we have begun running Discovery campaigns at Tuff for a variety of partners and industries this year, we have seen a very healthy $0.27 average CPC vs. $0.61 average CPC for Display ads. When compared to Search ads, the discrepancy is even larger.
However, although CPCs are cheap (for now), we have also seen traffic that performs better than the other image options currently available on Google Ads. For example, when split-testing the same retargeting audiences with Display and Discovery campaigns for our partner, QuietKat, over the past three months, Discovery campaigns have continued to outperform Display in all key on-site metrics such as transaction rate, bounce rate, pages/session, time on site, and more.
Many of Tuff’s partners are successfully advertising with Discovery Ads in 2020. Ready to give Discovery ads a go with our PPC team?
Chris is a PPC Strategist based in Nashville, Tennessee. When he’s not scaling Google Ads & YouTube campaigns, he enjoys longboarding, tinkering with automation tools, and a little bit of gaming.