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Search Engine Optimization  |   News

Google Discover Ads Aim to Help People Find Your Product Before They Search For It

Iris Hearn

By Iris Hearn

May 16, 2019

Google Discover Ads Aim to Help People Find Your Product Before They Search For It

Google Marketing Live is happening this week, an annual invitation-only event put on by Google that is historically known for announcing Google Ads' latest advertising formats that will launch over the next year -- it's a big deal in the paid media advertising world.

Well, this year did not disappoint -- day one of the conference was filled with new advertising updates built to reach the modern consumer.

The major focus of these updates are rooted in “Discovery.”

Google has gotten a pretty good handle on advertising based on consumer intent -- like keyword-based ads to appear in search, retargeting ads based on browser history, etc. - but what about when the user isn’t actively looking?

Seems a little bit against inbound, I know, but hear me out.

After conducting research on this, Google determined that this was a need their ad platform needed to fill based on the high ROI potential of ads that surface to help users discover new products.

“In a recent Google / Ipsos study, we saw that 76 percent of consumers enjoy making unexpected discoveries when shopping. And 85 percent of consumers will take a product-related action within 24 hours of discovering a product: reading reviews, comparing prices or purchasing the product—sometimes all at once!”

To meet this need, Google is launching “Discover” ads.

These are multi-format ads that span across a variety of Google-owned platforms and services that help attract audiences to new products or services they may not have found otherwise.

What Is Google Discover?

To be honest, I had no idea what Google Discover was before reading this ad update, but it has been around since 2017 and Google has recently been trying to draw more eyes to it.

For those in the same boat as me, Google Discover is essentially a newsfeed of relevant articles based on your browsing and search history that can be further customized based on user preferences.

It appears on the Google app for iOS and Andriod phones, as well as the Google homepage on any mobile phone.

Here’s what it looks like on mobile:

HubSpot Video

Since you can perform Google searches from your address bar, I haven’t been to the Google homepage on mobile in quite some time.

For this reason, I was skeptical of how widely used this feature was - and if ads would be effective here. However, Google states that over 800 million people use to discover each month - so even if you’re not personally using it, it’s not to suggest that your ads won’t be reached by relevant audiences.

What Will Discover Ads Look Like?

If you’re skeptical on the reach-abilty on the discover feed - the good news is that these ads exist in other formats.

In addition to showing up within Google’s Discover feed on mobile and in-app, these ads will also appear in Gmail ads and YouTube Discover feeds.

It's also important to note that these ads will look slightly different based on where they’re displayed, all of which are pictured below:


  • YouTube Ads (pictured left) - These will show up on the “Discover” page, which exists as the homepage in YouTube’s current in-app setup. These will appear similar to the standard Discover ads with a large image, headline, and description, although it's unknown if gallery-style ad functionality will extend to YouTube as well. However, YouTube Discover ads will have the added functionality of a call-to-action button to direct users to the next step. This feature is likely to prevent misleading users into thinking they’ll be brought to a YouTube video when they’ll actually be taken off the app.
  • Discover Feed (pictured center) - Display as standard in-feed ads that you’d see on other social platforms with a large image, headline, and description. Google also announced they’ll soon be adding swipeable gallery ads to the mix later this year.
  • Gmail (pictured right) - Appear as standard Gmail ads in Social and Promotion tabs, and within email search.

Ad Targeting & Setup

By nature, these ads are based on more in-depth targeting than a user’s search intent.

So, the targeting options follow suit.

Advertisers and brands can target based on Google’s audiences: interest, in-market, or affinity, or create custom intent audiences.

Google will also collect data from a variety of activities across Google-owned platforms like search activity, YouTube watch history, visits to sites within Google’s display network, and others to determine the best audience fit within these targets.

During the conference, Google shared an image of what the ad setup will look like for Discover Ads, which is set to roll out globally later this year:


Search Engine Land reported you can enter up to five different headlines for testing, your brand logo, and a larger landscape image.  Google won’t allow any images that appear blurry, low-quality, or include calls-to-action or other forms of clickbait though.

Like most Google Ad products, advertisers will be charged on a per-click basis.

Why Marketers Should Care

Google is one of the kings of the ad space, but has been lacking this type of ad product that isn’t necessarily intent-focused.

Of course, intent is important in terms of catching the right person while they’re actively researching a product or service, but as Facebook has found with its ad success, sometimes a consumer might not know what they want until its right in front of them.

The Discover Ad product will strengthen Google’s overall ad product by being able to capture a bigger portion of the sales funnel with their ads -- often even before they’re actively in the market.

Combined with Google’s access to many features we use regularly - like it’s search engine Gmail, YouTube, and the hundreds of sites within Google’s Display Network - the tech giant is in a good position to deliver these hyper-targeted ads that can hit the right person.

When inbound marketing first came to be, it was all about marketing by helping people find the answers they were looking for. This is still true, but it only serves the people who are actively searching for a way to solve a present pain point.

But the fact to the matter is, people don’t always recognize a problem until the solution is right in front of them (see: Popsockets, AirPods, literally anything in this Buzzfeed article, etc).

That’s not to say people won’t find your products through organic search efforts, but that it’s important to have a healthy mix of different tactics in your marketing strategy to help people discover your product.

From PPC to a well-optimized website, great content, and a clearly-defined conversion funnel, you will likely see the best ROI if you scale your efforts.

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