Google Discovery Ads: Everything You Need To Know

Quick Links

What Are Google Discovery Ads?

Google Discovery Ads are a revolutionary approach in digital advertising, harnessing the power of Google’s vast user data and machine learning technology to offer highly personalized ad experiences. Let’s dive into the intricacies of these ads, including the technology behind them, the controls advertisers have, and the platforms where they appear.

The Technology and Algorithms Powering Google Discovery Ads

At the core of Google Discovery Ads is a blend of sophisticated machine learning algorithms and extensive user data analysis. Here’s how it works:

  • Machine Learning: Google’s algorithms analyze user behaviors, such as search history and online activities, to predict interests and preferences. This predictive capability is key in serving relevant ads.
  • User Data and Signals: The system takes into account various signals like website visits, video engagement, app usage, and even location to build a comprehensive user profile.
  • Content Relevance: The ads align closely with the user’s interests. For instance, a user inclined towards technology news might see ads for the latest gadgets.
  • Engagement Prediction: The focus is on engagement likelihood, ensuring that ads shown are those users are most likely to interact with, thereby increasing campaign effectiveness.

Advertiser Controls for Targeting

Google Discovery Ads offer advertisers nuanced control over their target audience:

  • Audience Selection: Advertisers can pinpoint their audience based on demographics, interests, and behaviors, utilizing segments like in-market and custom intent audiences.
  • Automated Bidding: This feature dynamically adjusts bids for optimal campaign performance.
  • Exclusions: Advertisers have the option to exclude certain audiences and content types, aligning ad placements with their brand values.
  • Location and Language: Targeting can be refined based on geographical locations and languages.
  • Device Targeting: While focusing on mobile, advertisers can also choose specific device types for their ads.

Discovery Ads are prominently featured across three major Google platforms:

  1. Google Discover: Integrated within a user’s personalized content feed on mobile, these ads offer a native experience, blending with the user’s interests.
  2. YouTube: Ads appear in the home feed and alongside suggested videos, merging seamlessly with other video content.
  3. Gmail: Within the Promotions and Social tabs, these ads are presented as sponsored email content, reaching users directly in their inboxes.

By leveraging these platforms, Google Discovery Ads tap into areas of high user engagement, making them a powerful tool for advertisers to connect with their audience.

Content Types that Work Well with Google Discovery Ads

Certain types of content are particularly effective in Discovery Ads:

  • Lifestyle and Inspirational Content: Imagery and messages that inspire or relate to the user’s lifestyle tend to perform well, as they resonate on a personal level.
  • Product Showcases: High-quality images or videos showcasing products, especially in a lifestyle context, are effective in capturing user interest.
  • Storytelling: Content that tells a story, perhaps about the brand or the benefits of a product/service, engages users by creating a narrative they can follow.

How To Create Effective Discovery Ads

Ad Design and Content

Designing effective Discovery Ads requires a keen understanding of visual impact and clear messaging. Here are some best practices:

  • High-Quality Visuals: Use high-resolution images or videos that are visually appealing. The imagery should capture attention and be relevant to the product or service.
  • Consistent Branding: Ensure that your ads reflect your brand’s visual identity. Consistency in colors, fonts, and style helps in building brand recognition.
  • Compelling Headlines: Craft headlines that are clear, engaging, and relevant to the target audience. The headline should complement the visual and quickly convey the ad’s value proposition.
  • Concise and Persuasive Copy: Keep the text concise yet persuasive. It should highlight key benefits or features of the product or service and encourage users to take action.
  • Call-to-Action (CTA): A clear and prominent CTA is crucial. It should guide users on what to do next, whether it’s to learn more, sign up, or make a purchase.

Targeting and Optimization

Effective targeting and optimization are key to the success of Discovery Ads:

  • Audience Targeting: Utilize Google’s targeting options to reach your desired audience. This includes demographic targeting, interest-based targeting, and remarketing to users who have previously interacted with your brand.
  • Automated Bidding Strategies: Leverage Google’s automated bidding options to optimize for conversions or conversion value. This helps in achieving the best return on investment.
  • A/B Testing: Regularly test different elements of your ads, such as images, headlines, and CTAs, to see what resonates best with your audience. Use these insights to refine your campaigns.
  • Performance Monitoring: Keep a close eye on campaign performance metrics. Analyze engagement patterns and adjust your strategy accordingly for continual improvement.

Budget and Cost Effectiveness

Understanding and managing the cost structure is vital for maximizing the ROI of Discovery Ads:

  • Cost-Per-Click (CPC) Model: Discovery Ads typically operate on a CPC model, meaning you pay for each click your ad receives. This model allows for precise budget control.
  • Setting Budget Limits: Define your daily or campaign budget limits to ensure spending aligns with your marketing goals. Google will optimize ad delivery within this budget.
  • Cost Management: Monitor your campaigns regularly to assess performance against budget. Be prepared to adjust bids and budgets based on the campaign’s success or the need for optimization.
  • ROI Focus: Always evaluate the performance of your ads in terms of return on investment. Consider both direct conversions and secondary benefits like brand awareness or customer engagement.

Google Discovery Ads Specs

Image Size and Quality

Main Image:

    • Marketing Image: Minimum resolution of 600 x 314 pixels, recommended resolution of 1200 x 628 pixels. The aspect ratio should be 1.91:1.
    • Square Marketing Image: Minimum resolution of 300 x 300 pixels, recommended resolution of 1200 x 1200 pixels.


      • A square logo with a minimum resolution of 128 x 128 pixels and a recommended resolution of 1200 x 1200 pixels. The aspect ratio should be 1:1.
      • Note: Logos with a white background should include a non-white border.

File Formats and Size

  • Supported Image Formats: JPG or PNG.
  • File Size Limit: The maximum file size for images is 5 MB.

Text and Content


    • Up to five headlines can be provided, each with a maximum of 40 characters.
    • It’s recommended to use different headlines to see which performs best.


    • Up to five descriptions are allowed, each with a maximum of 90 characters.
    • Similar to headlines, using varied descriptions can help in testing which resonates more with the audience.

Call to Action (CTA):

    • Although CTAs are automatically generated based on the ad’s content, advertisers can also choose to specify a CTA.

Additional Guidelines

  • High-Quality Imagery: Use clear, high-quality images free from excessive filters or manipulative editing.
  • No Overlays or Text in Images: Google discourages overly cluttered images, particularly those with text overlays or promotional elements that might detract from the user experience.
  • Content Compliance: All ads must comply with Google’s advertising policies, which include restrictions on certain types of content, imagery, and advertising practices.

Best Practices for Google Discovery Ads

To maximize the effectiveness of your Google Discovery Ads campaigns, it’s important to follow best practices that align with the platform’s unique features and audience behaviors. Here are some key strategies to consider:

1. Focus on High-Quality, Engaging Visuals

  • Use Eye-Catching Images: Since Discovery Ads are visual-centric, choose images that are vibrant and likely to grab attention.
  • Ensure Image Relevance: Images should be directly relevant to your ad content and appealing to your target audience.
  • Avoid Clutter: Keep your visuals clean and straightforward, avoiding excessive text or graphic overlays.

2. Craft Compelling, Concise Messaging

  • Clear and Concise Headlines: Your headlines should be straightforward yet enticing, clearly conveying the value proposition.
  • Engaging Descriptions: Use descriptions to complement your headlines, offering more details and encouraging users to take action.
  • Strong Call-to-Action (CTA): Make sure your CTA is clear and directs users towards a specific action, such as ‘Learn More’, ‘Sign Up’, or ‘Buy Now’.

3. Utilize Audience Targeting Effectively

  • Leverage Google’s Audience Insights: Utilize Google’s vast data on user interests and behaviors to target your ads accurately.
  • Segment Your Audience: Create distinct audience segments for more personalized ad experiences. Tailor your message and visuals to each segment.

4. Test and Optimize Continuously

  • A/B Testing: Regularly test different elements of your ads, such as images, headlines, and CTAs, to determine what works best.
  • Monitor Performance Metrics: Keep an eye on your ad performance metrics and use these insights to refine your campaigns over time.

5. Align Ads with User Intent

  • Understand User Context: Since Discovery Ads appear in content feeds, align your ads with the kind of content users are engaging with at that moment.
  • Match the Tone and Style: Ensure your ads match the tone and style of the platform they appear on, whether it’s the casual style of YouTube or the more formal setting of Gmail.

6. Be Mindful of Budget and Bidding

  • Set a Realistic Budget: Determine a budget that allows for sufficient testing and optimization.
  • Use Smart Bidding Strategies: Consider using Google’s automated bidding strategies to optimize for your campaign goals, like maximizing conversions or reaching a target return on ad spend (ROAS).

7. Stay Compliant with Google’s Policies

  • Adhere to Guidelines: Ensure all your ads comply with Google’s advertising policies, focusing on authenticity and user experience.
  • Avoid Prohibited Content: Steer clear of any content that Google prohibits, such as misleading claims or inappropriate imagery.

Christian Thomson

Christian is a British-born entrepreneur and founder of Marwick. For over 19 years, Christian has successfully helped businesses excel in digital marketing. Founded in 2012, Marwick has grown from a start-up to the 11th Fastest Growing Company in Canada in 2020 and expanded into the UK in 2019.

  • Previous Project

    Understanding and Avoiding Keyword Cannibalization in SEO

  • Next Project

    Bottom Of Funnel Marketing Guide: What It Means & How To Do It

Call: 604-337-2980