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Google’s Newest Campaign Type: Demand Gen Replaces Discovery Campaigns

 In Google Ads, PPC

Google has recently announced the launch of a new fundamental campaign type in Google Ads: Demand Gen campaigns. This is first new campaign type since Performance Max and will have a major impact on the platform. (Though initially, probably not as much as PMAX!)

A good simple summary of this campaign type is offered by Google: “Demand Gen, your best-performing video and image assets are integrated across our most visual, entertainment-focused touchpoints — YouTube, YouTube Shorts, Discover and Gmail.”

Basically, this is going to be an upper funnel, visual ad unit comparable to paid social units on Meta and TikTok. Google is emphasizing video and creative in general for this campaign and it’s clearly an effort by Google to continue to fight for ad budgets at the awareness level.

Critically: Demand Gen campaigns are also forcibly replacing Discovery Campaigns. Google says, “January to March 2024, all remaining Discovery campaigns will be automatically upgraded to Demand Gen to prepare you for the new year with more AI-powered features that drive demand.” This is largely the same type thing which happened to Smart Shopping users that were forced to move to PMAX campaigns. 

Google Provides the following image to explain Demand Gen vs. Discovery features: 

The explanation and new features are pretty clear – focus on video, option to include maximize clicks bidding, reach into YT shorts and so on. However the Lookalike audiences concept is newer and more influential for the overall platform. 

First of all – Google notes, “Note: Lookalike segments are only available for Demand Gen campaigns.” Presumably, if they’re successful here, Google will consider expanding their use across the platform. 

Google Lookalike Audiences for Demand Gen Campaigns

It is worth further noting that Google has been sunsetting the “Similar Audience” feature that was broadly similar to the concept of a lookalike audience. Frankly Google’s explanation of lookalike audiences makes them sound pretty…similar…to the Similar Audiences feature so the reason for the changes here is not totally obvious but presumably has to do with some backend changes and privacy accommodations. 

When to use Demand Gen campaigns? Google has released an interesting and helpful diagram comparing use cases for Search, PMAX and DG. 

We can see here an emerging framework from Google’s perspective where Search, PMAX and DG campaigns are the 3 core product pillars reaching across Google properties. We’ll most likely see Google adjust the AI Checklist to also consider DG campaigns, since DG is being positioned as an AI-first product. 

It also seems that Google is listening to industry pressure and opening up reporting on more granular campaign elements both for PMAX and DG campaigns. See the language “Insights and reporting metrics for all individual assets/formats” – making it sound like advertisers will not get a black box experience here but some real reporting. 

Another key note for ecommerce advertisers is the ability to attach your Merchant Center product feed to the Demand Gen campaigns. This should enable DG campaigns to run Google’s various Shoppable ad formats on video ads and beyond. 

Shoppable Video Ads on YouTube

A final technical points is that Google has released some specific documentation about testing features for Demand Gen campaigns. Google says: 

  • Demand Gen experiments will run on all the inventories – Discover, Gmail, and Youtube.
  • Demand Gen experiments will allow advertisers to test with all variations of Image and Video campaigns.
  • The experiments will only allow for creative testing. We do not recommend testing other variables like targeting, bid, and budget at this time.
  • Advertisers are recommended to create new campaigns with the same start date in-order to run the experiment. Experiments can only use Demand Gen campaigns.

It sounds like DG campaigns will be a good vehicle for cross-platform creative testing. However like PMAX, it also sounds like Google will not be encouraging advertisers to tinker with the more technical media buying functions of the campaign. 


  • Google is launching a new campaign type called Demand Gen
  • DG campaigns will be available for all advertisers starting in October
  • DG campaigns will forcibly replace Discovery campaigns in 2024
  • DG has comparable features to Discovery but more reach and tools 
  • A new audience technology, Lookalikes, will be launched for DG campaigns 
  • Campaigns include merchant center link for ecommerce ad units
  • Google is creating a 3 layer positioning of Search, PMAX, DG for the full platform 
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