Google Demand Gen Campaigns: Specs, Examples, & Tips

November 2nd, 2023

At Google Marketing Live 2023, Google announced the launch of a new campaign type that’s set to replace Google Discovery Ads: Google Demand Gen campaigns.

Like Discovery Ads, Google Demand Gen campaigns will help advertisers reach shoppers on platforms outside Google Search — think YouTube, Gmail, and Discover feeds.

But Demand Gen ads will be powered by Google’s increasingly powerful AI. According to Google, early adopters of Demand Gen campaigns have seen:

  • 3 x higher click-through rates compared with paid social ads.
  • Improved results at a 61% lower cost-per-action.
  • 4,000 additional mid-funnel conversions.

Plus, 32% of consumers say they’ve bought something on Google feeds that they weren’t originally shopping for. So this is a great way to boost brand awareness and even capture unexpected sales.

If you’ve seen success with Google Discovery Ads — or you’re looking for a new way to engage with your target customers — it’s time to test Google Demand Gen campaigns. Here, you’ll find out how they work, the specs you need to follow, plus Google Demand Gen campaign examples to inspire you.

What are Google Demand Gen Campaigns?

Google Demand Gen campaigns are designed to reach shoppers before they search. Using AI algorithms, these campaigns anticipate which products and brands people are likely to be interested in.

According to Google:

“Demand Gen campaigns offer a set of unique features designed especially for the needs of today’s social marketer. With Demand Gen, your best-performing video and image assets are integrated across our most visual, entertainment-focused touchpoints — YouTube, YouTube Shorts, Discover and Gmail. These products reach over 3 billion monthly users as they stream, scroll and connect.”

There are five ad placements available for Demand Gen campaigns:

  • YouTube Shorts
  • YouTube in-stream ads
  • YouTube in-feed ads
  • Google Discover
  • Gmail ads

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Google Demand Gen Campaign: Case Study 

So how well are Demand Gen campaigns working for early adopters? Google Ads Agency Solutions8 shared their initial results, with CMO John Moran reporting:

“After about 20 days of spending $30,000, we’ve actually seen some pretty massive changes in the account that looked good initially, but then kind of fell apart as soon as you start to dig a little deeper.”

Initial results included:

  • 550% increase in conversions with a spend increase of 52%.
  • 847% increase in engaged YouTube views.
  • 1% increase in qualified leads.

This small increase in qualified leads is concerning. A massive boost in conversions should lead to more qualified leads. But this wasn’t the case for Solutions8, which John put down to the substantial increase in engaged view conversions.

We are specifically targeting very cold traffic. Demand Gen is targeting warmer traffic, and simply inserting itself into the conversion path. Showing an ad to a person that ends up converting in the same three days that the campaign is tracking, counting it as its own, spiking spend, getting 1,000 more conversions — but our brand is actually suffering. So is it generating demand, or is it attributing more existing demand to itself?

John Moran

CMO, Solutions8

That said, Demand Gen campaigns have already started to replace Discovery Ads. So it’s important to get to know this format and understand how to get the best from it.

Demand Gen Campaigns vs Google Discovery Ads: Key Differences

Discovery Ad advocates will be pleased to note there are lots of similarities between Discovery and Demand Gen campaigns. Both allow you to place ads across Google’s network, so you can reach new audiences with a range of ad formats. 

But there are some key differences to note too. This comparison table shows the Discovery vs Demand Gen campaign differences at a glance:

FeatureDiscovery AdsDemand Gen Ads
Ad placementsYouTube in-feed ad placement
YouTube Search ad placement
YouTube Watch Next ad placement
YouTube Shorts ad placement
YouTube in-stream ad placement
Google Discover ad placement
Gmail ad placement
Ad types Image ads
Video ads
Bid strategies Maximise conversion bid strategy
Maximise conversion value bid strategy
Maximise clicks bid strategy
Reporting Standard Google reporting
Brand lift
YouTube search lift
Targeting Optimised targeting
Lookalike targeting
Testing Ad previews
A/B experiments

Let’s delve into each of these in more depth:

2. More Ad Placement Options

Demand Gen ads still allow you to place ads in Gmail, Discover feeds, and YouTube. But including video ad formats means you can now display ads in-stream and in YouTube Shorts, as well as in-feed.

Long- and short-form video content has massive potential for increasing brand awareness and engagement. 87% of marketers say video has a direct, positive impact on sales. So including video in your Demand Gen campaigns is a simple way to increase your reach. Just be mindful that YouTube ads can sap your ad spend if you don’t keep an eye on your targeting.

2. New Testing Features

A/B testing is essential for getting the best results from any ad campaign. So the inclusion of new testing features like A/B experiments and ad previews are a key feature of Google Demand Gen campaigns. 

Use this to establish which assets are most effective with your audience, so you can optimise campaigns and maximise return on ad spend. Follow these A/B testing tips to improve ad performance in any campaign.

3. Lookalike Audience Targeting

Lookalike audience targeting is popular on many ad platforms (particularly Facebook Lookalike Audiences). And while Google recently removed its Similar Audience feature from other campaigns, you can now build and target lookalike audiences based on first-party audience data in Demand Gen campaigns.

Google Ads consultant Darren Taylor explains why Lookalike Audiences are important:

From the activity across your campaigns and websites, Google can find users who behave like the users who are converting on your website. It looks at the behavioural signals of your best traffic, then expands that reach outside of people who already know your website to people who have never discovered it before.

Darren Taylor

Google Ads Consultant

This table shows your Lookalike Audience refinement options:

NarrowTarget 2.5% of users that are most similar to your selected audience segment.
BalancedTarget 5% of users that are most similar to your selected audience segment.
BroadTarget 10% of users that are most similar to your selected audience segment.

4. More Bid Strategies

While Google Discovery only allowed advertisers to use smart bidding strategies (such as maximise conversions and target ROAS), Google Demand Gen introduces maximise clicks.

Maximise clicks may be a useful bid strategy if you:

  • Have a long sales cycle.
  • Expect lots of touchpoints before conversion.
  • Want to boost site traffic rather than conversions in your Demand Gen campaign.
  • Want to increase physical foot traffic to your store.

5. Increased Reporting Options

With Demand Gen campaigns, you’ll get all the same reporting options as in Discovery Ads, plus key insights into Brand Lift, Search Lift, and Conversion Lift:

  • Brand lift — How your ad impacts people’s perception of your brand, product, or service.
  • Search lift — How your ads have driven specific searches related to your brand, product, or service.
  • Conversion lift — The number of conversions, site visits and other actions driven by ad views.

These metrics can help you understand the impact of your ads, so you can tailor your ads and assets based on your campaign objective.

When Will Google Upgrade My Discovery Ads to Demand Gen Campaigns?

Google opened up the early access beta for Demand Gen campaigns in August 2023. From October 2023, they’ve begun upgrading specific accounts from Discovery Ads to Demand Gen campaigns.

Some accounts are being upgraded automatically. So if you spot changes to your Discovery Ads, this could be why. All upgrades are expected to be completed by March 2024.

All advertisers can now create Demand Gen campaigns from their Google Ads dashboard.

The Benefits of Demand Gen Campaigns

By using Google Demand Gen campaigns, you can:

  • Use video assets to put your ads in front of more YouTube users and encourage conversions.
  • Preview and test your ads to ensure you’re getting the best possible return on your investment.
  • Make use of Lookalike Audiences to target the most relevant, valuable users.
  • See how your ads affect brand perception and search uplift with new reporting features.
  • Optimise your bidding strategy based on your campaign objective.

Google Demand Gen Campaign Specs 

Each type of Demand Gen campaign requires specific information in order to run successfully. Google’s AI displays the asset(s) or ad(s) that have the highest chance of converting a specific user, so your headlines, descriptions and images need to make sense in any combination.

The spec you need to follow depends on the type of ad you’re creating. This summary table shows all the current Google Demand Gen campaign specs:

SpecsSingle Image AdsCarousel AdsVideo Ads & Connected TV Ads
Headlines3-5 headlines of ~40 characters eachOne headline per carousel card, plus one ad set headline of ~40 characters1 headline of ~40 characters
Descriptions3-5 descriptions of ~90 characters eachOne description of ~90 charactersOne description of ~90 characters
Business NameUp to 25 charactersUp to 25 charactersUp to 25 characters
Final URL/SitelinksOne display URL for your landing pageOne display URL for your landing pageChoose up to four sitelinks
Call-To-ActionChoose from list or allow automatedChoose from list or allow automatedUp to 10 characters
Images/Videos3-20 images of specific formats (see table below)2-10 images of the same format (see table below)1-5 videos (see table below for formatting options)
LogoOne 1,200 x 1,200 px imageOne 1,200 x 1,200 px imageOne 1,200 x 1,200 px image
Supported placementsYouTube in-feed, YouTube Shorts, Discover, GmailYouTube in-feed, Discover, GmailYouTube in-feed, YouTube in-stream, YouTube Shorts (exc. CTV), Discover (exc. CTV)

Demand Gen campaigns also include dynamic product shopping ad placements. Information and assets for these are automatically taken from Google Merchant Center.

Google Demand Gen Campaign Specs: Image and Video Formats

Choose from several image and video formats in your Demand Gen ads. See the image specs below:

Image StyleSize RatioRecommended SizeMinimum Size
Landscape1.91:11,200 x 628 px600 x 314 px
Square1:11,200 x 1,200 px300 x 300 px
Portrait4:5960 x 1,200 px480 x 600 px

For video ads, follow the following formatting specs:

Video StyleAspect RatioRecommended Pixels (HD)Minimum Pixels
Landscape16:91,920 x 1,080 px640 x 480 px
Square1:11,080 px x 1,080 px480 x 480 px
Portrait4:5Not specifiedNot specified
Vertical9:161,080 x 1,920 px480 x 640 px

Videos should also adhere to the following guidelines:

  • Maximum file size: 256MB
  • Recommended format: .MPG (MPEG-2 or MPEG-4)
  • Other accepted formats: .WMV, .AVI, .MOV and .FLV .MPEG-1, .MP4, .MPEGPS, 3GPP, WebM, DNxHR, ProRes, CineForm and HEVC (h265)

Google Demand Gen Campaigns: Ad Examples

See what your Demand Gen campaigns could look like in situ with these ad examples.

YouTube In-Feed Ad Example

YouTube in-feed ads existed in Discovery Ads, so if you don’t add any video assets, you might not see too many changes here.

However, Demand Gen YouTube in-feed placements support video ads as well as image and carousel ads. So you can get your video assets seen in-feed as well as in-stream. Here’s an example of an in-feed video Demand Gen ad from Chanel:

This Demand Gen ad appears at the top of the home page. It uses a video format, punchy CTA, and simple, recognisable branding to entice buyers to click.

YouTube In-Stream Ad Example

In-stream ad placements are completely new for Demand Gen campaigns. They don’t look too different from standard YouTube ads, but AI ensures ads are placed before relevant viewers.

For example, this HelloFresh Demand Gen ad is placed within a video about hosting a dinner party:

YouTube Shorts Ad Example

As with in-stream ads, YouTube Shorts placements are new in Demand Gen campaigns. As vertical video streaming platforms like TikTok grow in popularity, you can get your ads in front of more short-form video viewers.

That’s why TikTok uses YouTube Shorts to steer users towards its own platform:

Discover Feed Ad Example

Discover feed ads can now be shown in a range of formats, including single-image ads, carousel ads, or videos.

This IKEA Discover ad uses the classic single-image format to highlight its key selling points:

  • Buyer guarantee.
  • Affordable fittings.
  • Simple, clean kitchen design.
  • Easy purchase and fitting process.

Gmail Ad Example

Finally, Google has kept Gmail ad placements within its Demand Gen campaigns. These look very similar to Discovery Ads, but you’ll get all the additional reporting and targeting benefits, too.

Hello Fresh has uploaded lots of different assets, ensuring it appears across a range of Google ad platforms. This keeps the brand top of mind (and the discount code gives the user a clear incentive to buy).

How to Set up a Google Demand Gen Campaign

  1. Create and name your new campaign in your Google Ads account. Select Sales, Website traffic, Product and brand consideration or Create a campaign without a goal’s guidance as your campaign objective (other objectives won’t allow you to run a Demand Gen campaign).
  1. Set up device, language, and location targeting. Device targeting can only be set at campaign level.
  1. Choose your bidding strategy and set a budget. Your bid strategy options are maximise clicks, target return on ad spend, target cost per action, or maximise conversions.
  1. Choose your audience targeting options. Decide whether to use an existing audience, first-party contacts, or a Lookalike Audience. Remember to exclude any audiences you don’t want to see your ads.
  1. Create your ads and upload your assets.
  1. Launch your Demand Gen campaign.
  1. Allow a two-week learning period so Google can collect information and optimise your bids. Try to avoid making changes to your campaign during this time.

Best Practices for Google Demand Gen Campaigns 

Follow these best practice tips to get the most from your Demand Gen campaigns:

  • Plan ahead — If Google hasn’t yet upgraded your Discovery Ads, be prepared for this change. Start planning how you’ll use Demand Gen ads now.
  • Invest in video — Video is a major advantage in Demand Gen campaigns, so invest in high-quality, high-definition video ads. You might also want to refresh your images if they’ve been in rotation for a while.
  • Use Lookalike Audiences — Find new valuable users with Lookalike Audiences based on existing customers or users.
  • Make sure conversion tracking is set up properly — Double check your conversion tracking settings. It’s important you have the right conversion data to monitor and understand ad performance. (See the Solutions8 case study above).
  • Give your campaign time to run — Demand Gen campaigns need data to run effectively, so try to resist the temptation to tweak your campaign in the first two weeks.
  • Test your ads and assets — Demand Gen allows you to experiment with different assets and ad combinations to optimise performance, so make good use of this new feature. Refine your targeting to reach the most valuable users.

Protect Demand Gen Campaign With Lunio 

Google Demand Gen campaigns are designed to get your brand in front of more relevant people. With new ad placements, video format options, and better reporting capability, this AI-powered campaign type has the potential to boost brand awareness, site traffic, and conversions.

But like all ad campaigns, Demand Gen campaigns are vulnerable to invalid traffic, which can drain your ad budget and skew your results. That’s where Lunio comes in.

Lunio protects your Demand Gen campaigns from fake users, enhancing performance marketing efficiency and reallocating up to a quarter of your ad spend from invalid traffic to genuine revenue.

Advertise to Active Buyers, Not Fake Users

Ads are for humans, not bots. Get a demo and save up to 20% of your advertising budget by automatically eliminating fake ad clicks across all paid channels.

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