Understanding Google’s upcoming demand generation ads: A 2024 perspective

Last updated: February 9, 2024

Konrad Frankowski

Konrad 'Kon' Frankowski is the Head of Paid Media at The Evergreen Agency specialising in strategic growth, performance marketing and commercial leadership.

Read Konrad's bio here

In 2024 Google Ads will continue to rapidly evolve, and Google’s transition from Discovery Ads to Demand Generation (Demand Gen) ads is a significant development.

Understanding the nuances of this shift, and its impact on both advertisers and consumers, is crucial for businesses who are looking to stay ahead and serve their ads in the most effective and meaningful way while keeping a firm grip on their spend and commercials.

So, what are Demand Generation ads anyway?

Demand Gen as a discipline is geared towards reaching new markets without being overly explicit with sale messaging. It’s more about planting the seeds in a way brand awareness does, but without focusing on brand as the primary objective.

Instead, demand generation focuses on education and asserting your expert voice and credibility, so when your audience is ready to buy, they know to come to you as an expert in the field.

For example, with demand gen ads, a clothing brand will not necessarily want to focus on their new range or a clearance sale, but instead may want to talk about the benefits of using specific fabrics, or focus on the initiatives they are involved in that reach beyond a competitors’ offering.

How are Demand Gen ads different?

Simply put, they are the evolution of Discovery Ads.

Introduced in mid-2023, Demand Gen ads aim to leverage Google’s powerful AI capabilities to deliver high-performing video and image ads across Google’s ecosystem, which includes platforms like YouTube, Discover, and Gmail​​​​.

The way they feed into other platforms is crucial for generating buzz around a brand while retaining visibility without being obnoxious or shouty.

As you build your credibility, they seamlessly become part of the entire search ecosystem. For example, as part of Google Search, Discover makes use of many of the same signals as Search to determine the most relevant, helpful, people-first content.

Similarly with YouTube and Gmail; the content of your ads needs to serve a purpose beyond sales.

5 key features of Demand Generation ads

Expanded reach: Demand Gen campaigns extend across various Google and YouTube domains, including YouTube Home, Search, Watch Next, Discover, Gmail, YouTube Shorts, and YouTube In-Stream​​.

Integrated ad formats: These campaigns combine image and video ads, allowing for a more dynamic advertising experience​​.

Flexible bidding options: New bidding strategies, such as “Maximize Clicks,” offer versatility in campaign optimisation​​.

Enhanced reporting and measurement: Advanced reporting features like brand lift and search lift metrics provide deeper insights into campaign performance​​.

Audience Optimisation: Utilising lookalike segments, Demand Gen campaigns can effectively target audiences similar to a brand’s existing customer base​​.

Why Demand Generation ads matter in 2024

Engaging diverse audiences: The integration of various platforms like YouTube Shorts and Gmail allows brands to reach and engage with a wider, more diverse audience​​.

AI-driven efficiency: Google’s AI capabilities help in optimising ad placements and targeting, potentially leading to better conversion rates and ROI​​.

Enhanced creative opportunities: The ability to use a mix of video and image ads in a single campaign encourages more creative and engaging storytelling​​.

Data-driven insights: Advanced reporting tools provide valuable data, helping advertisers to make informed decisions about their marketing strategies​​.

Transition from discovery to Demand Gen ads

The transition process started in 2023 and is set to be completed by early 2024. Existing Discovery campaigns will be automatically upgraded to Demand Gen, incorporating new features and capabilities​​.

Demand Gen vs. Lead Gen

While Demand Gen focuses on creating brand presence and attracting new prospects, Lead Generation zeroes in on converting engaged prospects into leads. Demand Gen is about educating and informing prospects about your brand’s value, whereas Lead Generation aims to capture contact information for direct sales conversations​​.

Ok, so what are my KPIs?

This is probably the ONLY time you will hear me saying that vanity metrics matter. By nature, demand gen ads are geared towards your brand being recognised as an authority and not the direct sales. Therefore, it’s only natural that some of the metrics you can focus on are:

  • The volume of searches for your brand
  • Comparative search volume between your brand and competitors
  • Organic visits to website pages with high user intent
  • Direct website visits (users entering your site’s URL in their browser)
  • User entry and interaction on your feature and solutions pages
  • Traffic coming from external websites and social media platforms as referrals

As we embrace 2024, Demand Generation ads are proving to be a pivotal element in digital marketing.

Their ability to harness AI for better targeting, along with the integration of diverse ad formats across multiple Google platforms, marks a significant shift in how you can connect with consumers.

By understanding and leveraging the features and capabilities of Demand Gen ads, especially powered by AI, you can create more effective, engaging, and successful campaigns that truly resonate with your target audiences.


👋 I’m Konrad, connect with me on LinkedIn.

I’m the Head of Paid Media at Evergreen, a digital marketing agency that specialises in growing ecommerce & retail brands.

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