As a species, we will find a way to survive COVID-19. As a global economy, we will need to dig deep. A good start is picking up the small and medium businesses (SMBs) that employ over half of the working world, and that is exactly what Google has pledged to do by offering $340 million in free credits through its Google Ads platform. The Google Ads credits will be valid on any campaign type managed by the SMB or a Google Ads management partner across Search, Display, and YouTube. Once they are awarded in late May, companies will have through the end of the year (Dec. 31, 2020) to use them before they expire.

Who is eligible for free Google Ads credits?

What exactly constitutes a “small” or “medium” business is subject to debate — even the government’s definition is variable, as the Small Business Administration (SBA) factors your industry sector into its designations. As it pertains to eligibility for Google Ads credits, the search giant says it “works with SMBs worldwide from local stores to companies with hundreds of employees and many locations.” Generally speaking, if your company employs 500 or fewer people, you are a small business. That covers over 99 percent of employer firms in the United States. 

Aside from size, the other qualifier is spending. The SMB must have an established Google Ads account and have been active throughout 2019, with spending at least 10 out 12 months. In 2020, the SMB should have marketed through the Google Ads platform in either January or February. Credits will be distributed to each individual Google Ads account, even if multiple accounts are managed by the same entity, such as a third-party digital marketing company or advertising agency. The value of the Google Ads credits will vary depending on how much prior ad spend and the country and currency in which the account is based.

What is NOT allowed on the Google Ads platform?

Because of the pandemic, there are additional temporary restrictions on who can advertise what and what can be advertised on the Google Ads platform. One prime example is personal protective equipment (PPE), as frontline medical workers deal with critical shortages. Other items relating to health are being closely monitored for artificial price inflation or false claims of benefits. Furthermore, advertisers caught exploiting what Google calls “sensitive events” — natural disasters, conflicts, death, public health emergencies, etc. — will see their accounts suspended or terminated.

Accounts that are permitted to incorporate COVID-19 related language and subject matter include those belonging to:

  • Healthcare providers
  • Non-governmental organizations (NGOs)
  • Intergovernmental organizations
  • Verified election campaigns
  • Managed private sector accounts who have demonstrated compliance with Google policies over time who “want to get relevant information to the public.”

Additional support through the Grow With Google Small Business Fund

Beyond the Google Ads platform, the company is chipping in an additional $125 million in relief through its Grow with Google Small Business Fund. The money will be circulated through the Opportunity Finance Network, which allows community development financial institutions (CDFIs) to facilitate the short-term recovery and long-term financing needs of their local small businesses. The fund offers CDFIs low-cost, fixed-rate loans of up to 10 years, with interest deferred during the first year.

Rethink your Google Ads strategy

While SMBs assuredly welcome Google Ads free credit, it won’t mean as much unless leveraged with good strategy. Update your Google My Business profile to properly reflect current hours and services, as well as any new capabilities, offerings, or deals. 

For the ads themselves, be especially wary of tone and imagery, and maximize your budget by narrowing your advertising radius relative to physical location — people aren’t traveling as far or as often during the public health emergency. If you have the financial wherewithal to spend on two ads, use one to promote your business overall and another to spotlight a popular product, service, or feature. 

Not sure how to make the best of your Google Ads budget? Epic Web Studios can scale down, scale up, and strategize Google Ads campaigns depending on your unique needs and circumstances. We let the data guide us so we can capably and comfortably guide you in any economic climate. 

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