The Google Discovery Feed and Advertising

Word on the street is that the Google Discovery feed will become its new advertising cash flow in 2020.  It hasn’t attracted much attention since its beta launch last year, but Google is certainly excited about it. In 2020, it is expected that ads in the personalized mobile news feed will reach 800,000 users. The company paid attention to Facebook’s news feed ads growing as Google+ faded away. Tests have been conducted in the mobile feed and they are excited by the current results. We do not know what exactly is impressive but it’s certainly something to watch. Not everyone has seen ads yet, even though testing initially began in late 2018. Google officially introduced the Discovery campaigns at their Google Marketing Live last May.

What is Discovery?

Discovery is a personalized service that shows news articles, stories, and topics that are based on the individual user’s search history. Browsing, app behaviors, location history and settings, and stated interests come into play as well. Discovery ads are centered around images and are similar to social creatives.

Visibility is Still a Concern

The biggest downfall we can see is that advertisers cannot target ads to only the feed. The campaigns are a part of Google’s electronic-powered campaign types that are run across multiple platforms automatically. Discovery ads will serve users on Gmail and the homepage on YouTube. With the combination, these ads can reach hundreds of millions of users. While the ads cannot be targeted solely to the news feed, the campaign results do compensate for lack of control and visibility.  Many advertisers are willing to accept Discovery campaigns as they are for the sake of improved sales.

Which Advertisers Should Test Discovery?

Advertisers are starting to test Discovery campaigns with clients who represent a variety of businesses. It isn’t so much the product or service that is important, the goals are what matter. Brand awareness, increased sales, and acquisitions are some goals that have been reached with major success. Even something as simple as increased site traffic will notice new activity after a Discovery campaign. The point is, Discovery is a high volume and low CPC channel that will have the extra benefit of boosting brand awareness.

Targeting the Right Audience

Remarketing is an important step for businesses who want to attract previous clients and sales back to their website for the sake of brand loyalty. Brand loyalty is perfect for building stability and maintaining relationships with the target audience. It will eventually lead to new connections as users talk about the business.  Can it be possible with Discovery campaigns? One would initially think not since there is little control over visibility. Yet many advertisers have been using Discovery campaigns for remarketing and have found them to be successful.

The reason for this is that Google Analytics allows one to target tag-based audiences that become a part of the Discovery campaign. It does create a sense of control over who is seeing your ads. The best part is that tag-based audiences are more targeted and result in a lower CPA. The downside is that the volume is lower than general audiences, but that is to be expected with tag-based audiences.

Repurpose Your Creatives

You may have noticed carousel and single image ads on Facebook. These are so successful on Facebook that Discovery campaigns are designed to support the same things. This gives you more flexibility with your past and current creatives while designing new creatives. One thing about this support is that you can reuse your old creatives in new ways. Many advertisers have tested the carousel and single image ads on Discovery that were originally used on Facebook. Having the ability to take creatives from other social channels and repurpose them for Discovery campaigns adds freedom to the creative process. The repurposing also helps maintain a consistent brand all over the internet.  It is recommended that you use multiple images in landscape and square settings. Your ad should look organic to the Discovery feed.

Want To See How Successful It Is?

The only way to truly see how successful your Discovery campaign is, is by reviewing key performance indicators (KPI’s). They should be tied to your client’s goals but you can also look at the impact of the Discovery campaigns on your broader customer base.

If you are an advertiser doing a remarketing campaign, CPA and ROAS will be the most reliable numbers to review. If the focus is on top of funnel, impression vs sales and the customers path in Google Analytics will be more helpful. Increased sales and traffic numbers will have a focus on numbers visiting, lurkers, purchases completed, and interaction with consumers on social media platforms.

What Does the Future Hold?

For now, those with a Google account manager can get into the beta run. You can start small, think $50 per day, and scale from there to see it’s effectiveness. Setup can be tricky since it is still in beta and there are some frustrations with having to re-upload assets.

We are still waiting to see if Discover will be another successful path for the Google corporation. This time around, they are working slowly. We know this because of the relatively little chatter since the ads were launched. Until numbers are released, we really don’t know the weight the news feed is pulling. We have heard success stories with many advertisers and yet it can still vary. Advertisers do have the ability to see channel data in Google Analytics source/medium reporting. Some advertisers have done this and see situations where half the campaign traffic shifted to another platform, like Youtube. On Youtube, there is volume and success awaiting.

For some of you, it may be better to wait a little longer before doing a test run. Allow Google to take the time to work out some kinks and improve the system. Be mindful that cost could rise with improvements to the site and once it is released to the advertising public. Now is a good time to set aside some budget money to use when it is released.

SEO virtuoso, CEO @Sachs Marketing Group. Focused on being of service to business owners - helping to better position them in the eyes of their audiences.

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