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What Are Google’s Discovery Ads?

Discovery Ads are Google’s latest form of paid advertising that opens up opportunities on a variety of Google-owned properties. As a search engine, Google focuses on providing users with quick, relevant, and informative content.

What this means for Discovery Ads is that your ads are being served to users who are at the exact stage of their buyer’s journey that you want to target. Simply put, your ads are ending up in front of who you want to see them, at the right time, in the right place to get the results you want to see.

How They Work

Discovery campaigns provide you with the opportunity to leverage Google’s advanced algorithms and machine learning to learn about your customer’s behaviors when it comes to interacting with your ads. This lets you continue to design ad copy that strikes a chord with your audience. A/B testing your ad copy enables you to quickly determine which ads are generating the highest return on investment and leverage that to increase the efficacy of your marketing campaign.

Basically, your ads keep getting better.

What Do They Look Like?

The chances are, you’ve already seen tons of these ads. Discovery Ads are natively integrated into Google’s properties which means that they aren’t intrusive or disruptive to a viewer’s experience. Rather, they complement the platform they are being served on.

Discovery Ads can range from a singular still image to a revolving carousel of images showcasing your product or service that encourages viewers to swipe through them. This creative freedom lets you build ads that capture your target market at their exact point of decision making.

Carousel Ads

Source: Google Blog

Where Are They Served?

Discovery Ads can be found across Google-owned properties including YouTube, Gmail’s Promotion & Social tabs, and Google’s Discover feed. This means that you ads can get in front of potentially thousands to millions of visitors across each of these platforms.

What Are They Good For?

Discovery Ads are fantastic for brand awareness and exposure campaigns. These ads can help you get in front of up to 2.9 Billion (with a B) users as they continue to browse across a variety of Google properties while catching up on their favorite properties. Discovery Ads excel in presenting your product or service with ads that are relevant, creative, and designed to tell your brand’s unique story.

Discovery Ads use audience and intent customer signals to help you deliver customized, highly visual ads to your target audience. Combining this with machine learning, it’s becoming simpler to make sure that your ads are being connected with new, qualified customers at a rate that grows as fast as your business does.

What is Not Allowed on Discovery Ads?

On top of existing Google Ads guidelines and personalization policies, Discovery Ads have an additional set of requirements that must be met to ensure compliance. Discovery Ad guidelines are more stringent than traditional ads due to the additional properties they are shown on. This means that a Discovery ad copy may run on Google’s other properties while being disallowed to run on one.

There are several categories of disallowed content in Discovery Ads: improper content, negative events, implied interactivity, selfies, unclear images, offensive language, and confusing text. Having any one of these categories pictured on your ads can remove eligibility from being served on YouTube, Gmail, and the Discover Feed.

Let’s dive into each of these categories a bit more.

Improper Content

This can constitute a variety of things that Google deems visually inappropriate to be shown in an ad, which typically includes anything suggestive or visually startling. Other things like unnecessary exposure or medical procedures are also prohibited from being shown.

Negative Events

This can be a broad category. A negative event is anything that can be construed as having a negative impact on someone or their life. Several examples of negative events include:

    • Divorce or Breakups
    • Foreclosures
    • Financial Difficulties
    • Accidents or Injuries
    • Trauma or Pain (including a person crying/grieving)
    • Death-related Content


Examples imagery depicting negative events, courtesy of Google.

Within the scope of negative events, there are some services and exceptions that are allowed with limitations in place. These include references to:

    • Services for funeral homes and related industries so long as they do not depict any aforementioned negative events.
    • Divorce or family services including attorneys, law offices, or counseling so long as they do not depict any aforementioned negative events.
    • Insurance or event support services so long as they do not depict any aforementioned negative events.

Implied Interactivity

This means ads designed to look as if they are clickable or interactive beyond their capacity as an advertisement. Inaccurate statements including “someone sent you message” are also prohibited in Discovery Ads.


Selfie photographs are prohibited from Discovery Ads except in situations where they are relevant including photography or selfie stick advertising. A best practice is to use professional-level photography in your advertising to provide the highest quality ads and the most accurate representation of your product or service.

Unclear Images

Blurry, distorted, or poorly cropped images have the tendency to be confusing and do more damage to a brand than good. Due to these reasons, having unclear imagery on your ad copy can result in them being disallowed.

Offensive Language

This constitutes any usage of profanity or innuendos in an inappropriate manner. Anything that can be presented in a derogatory or disrespectful manner can be subject to being disallowed on Google’s ad platforms.

Confusing Text

This includes typos, misspellings, grammatical issues or any other text used in an uncommon way that could confuse the average visitor. In short, well written and grammatically correct content will avoid any issues with ad approval.

What is Allowed on Discovery Ads?

The good news is that if your services don’t check any of the boxes above, you’re good to go with Google’s new Discovery Ads. A new world of Pay-per-click advertising awaits you and partnering with an experienced digital marketing company can help you take advantage of this new avenue.

Google’s newest ad format, Discovery Ads, presents an attractive opportunity to get you brand, name, and services in front of a vast ocean of web visitors. Experienced digital marketing companies in Sonoma County are already well-versed in the usage of Discovery Ads and can help your business take its paid search campaign to the next level.

WSI has been around since the founding of the internet. Over the years, we’ve helped hundreds of companies in Sonoma County and throughout the United States grow their digital footprint using targeted marketing campaigns to scale their growth. To get in touch with us, please call (707) 843-3714.


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