Google Ads has recently introduced a new campaign type. It’s called Demand Gen, and it’s replacing the Discovery campaign type. It should certainly be seen as a new, improved, and expanded version of Discovery campaigns, but rather than calling it something like “Discovery 2.0,” Google opted for an entirely new name. The name “Demand Gen” is intended to describe how this campaign type can help advertisers generate demand for their products and services. That implies better results for the ads than to simply be discovered. (Even Google needs to consider the marketing zing of what they’re offering!)

What is Demand Gen?

To be blunt, Demand Gen is Google’s attempt at duplicating what Meta/ Facebook has mastered: Capturing interest through ads shown in a feed. (This was also the purpose of Discovery campaigns.) Traditionally, when using Facebook or Instagram, users either swipe or scroll to see visually appealing content with ads interspersed within. This approach makes for an effective interest-attracting vehicle. Google, of course, has several other remarkable ad placement vehicles – such as search engine ads, display ads (which show next to content, like news articles), and YouTube ads. But the scrolling feed option is something that Meta has had over them. Google’s huge family of sites and apps already offers some feed-type usage, such as YouTube channel subscription feeds. Google created more, though, such as the feed that now appears in the Google Search mobile app. Discovery campaigns reached those feeds and a couple of other placements with ads. Demand Gen has added even more. Here are the places where Demand Gen campaign ads can be seen:

  • Google Search app
  • YouTube Home feed
  • YouTube Watch Next feed
  • YouTube Shorts
  • YouTube Instream
  • Gmail Promotions tab
  • Gmail Social tab

How is Demand Gen different from Discovery

Demand Gen is very similar to its predecessor, Discovery, but adds the following:

  • More placements – including YouTube Shorts and In-Stream ads
  • More assets – up to 5 videos can be included within a campaign
  • More ad formats – including short-form videos, carousels, and various image shapes
  • Maximize clicks bidding – Rather than needing to choose conversion bidding, maximize clicks bidding is available with no minimum budget required.
  • Lookalike segments – Create lookalike audiences based on inputs like past purchases, website and app activity, or YouTube engagement.

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How to use Demand Gen

To create a Demand Gen campaign, choose one of these options for the campaign objective:

  • Sales
  • Leads
  • Website Traffic
  • Awareness and consideration
  • Create a campaign without a goal’s guidance

Then, choose Demand Gen as the campaign type.

The next options in the campaign settings are:

  • Campaign name (create a custom name)
  • Campaign goal (conversions, clicks, or conversion value)
  • Conversion goals (choose from conversions that have already been created)
  • Set target cost per action (this is optional — maximize conversions for your budget is the default setting)
  • Daily budget
  • Start date (and end date, if applicable)
  • Devices (optional)
  • Ad schedule (optional)

What about location and language? This is interesting. These settings have traditionally been at the campaign level in Google Ads, but for Demand Gen, Google prefers you set them at the ad group level (which is how Meta/ Facebook has always done it). Here’s Google’s advice in the campaign setup panel:

We recommend setting location and language at the ad group level to better align with your other targeting and to make sure your budget is being allocated to where your ads are performing best. Setting location and language at the campaign level is only recommended if you need to target a radius around a location and cannot be changed after publishing this campaign. Setting campaign level location and language will clear your ad group level location and language settings.

There’s a toggle that allows for location and language settings at the campaign level if that’s what you’d rather do.

The targeting options are simple. You can click to add or create an audience and choose to have Optimized targeting turned on or off. For audiences, you have the same options that are on the Shared Library/ Audiences page. You can choose pre-built segments of people based on interests, life events, detailed demographics, search activity, or websites they’ve visited. You can also choose an audience based on Your data, which could be visitors to your website or an uploaded customer list. Turning Optimized targeting on allows Google to go outside your chosen audience(s) to find results. Google describes it as follows:

Information such as your selected audience, landing page, and assets are used to find people likely to convert.

Next is the ad creation panel. The first task there is to choose which type of ad to create: Single image ad, Video ad, or Carousel image ad. (Wow, this is so much like Meta Ads!) Then, you’ll add the relevant elements for your selection: images, videos, logos, headlines, descriptions, carousel cards, business name, call to action, and URL.

When finished, you can confirm and publish.

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Google’s advice

Google offers advice for succeeding with Demand Gen campaigns, and it’s interesting how blatant they are about trying to duplicate the standard Meta Ads vehicle. Here’s what they suggest:

Audience — Try replicating your audience approach from comparable social or video action campaigns, and try testing Lookalikes.

Budget — For conversion-based bidding, set a daily budget equal to 15x your expected CPA.

Bidding — Try similar bid levels to your social or video action campaigns and set your conversion attribution window to <28 days.

Goals – For best results, make sure you are selecting only one conversion goal per campaign.

Targeting—Enable optimized targeting from day 1, and use at least one In-Market audience.

Creative — Leverage existing social video and image creative assets.

Image and video – Include all aspect ratios for images (portrait, square, and landscape) and videos (square, landscape, and vertical).

Duration — We recommend a minimum of 4 – 6 weeks test duration.

Evaluation benchmark — Evaluate performance against your comparable social campaigns.

Should you use Demand Gen?

When it comes to online ads, we should all be careful about making predictions and assumptions. Surprising results can humble us all, no matter how much experience and knowledge we think we have. There is really no substitute for testing.

If you have a particular ad or offer that works well on Facebook or Instagram, trying it with a Demand Gen campaign could make sense. Since YouTube is a main outlet for Demand Gen placements, an enormous audience can be reached around video content. Of course, YouTube is not the same as Facebook or Instagram, and users shouldn’t be expected to react the same way when they see ads. The influence of TikTok also looms large with the Demand Gen vehicle because of YouTube Shorts, which are the short-form vertical videos that TikTok has been an empire around. Google claims that YouTube Shorts now get around 50 million views per day.

In closing

In the world of online ads, you can always count on one thing – change. Changes range from very welcome to very unwelcome by ad specialists. Demand Gen campaigns have only recently been rolled out widely, so the jury is still out on how helpful they will be for ad success.