Google is giving small & medium businesses worldwide $340 million in free ad credits. This is wonderful news for SMBs who have been hammered by Covid-19 and who doesn’t like free money? Eligible businesses who have received a credit will be notified via an automatic email (like below) sent from Google to the administrator of your Google Ads credit. The email also explains where you will find the credit.
AM I ELIGIBLE FOR THIS CREDIT?
According to Google, the following SMBs are eligible to receive the COVID-19 Google Ads credits:
SMBs who advertised on Google Ads in 10 out of 12 months during 2019, and in January and/or February of 2020.
SMBs who advertised directly and/or with a third partner agency (like Sprint Digital)
In terms of how Google defines an SMB, their definition is extraordinarily vague. Google defines SMBs as “worldwide [businesses] from local stores to companies with hundreds of employees and many locations.” Well, that clears that up!!! The good news is that a wide range of our clients have received the credit so it seems that eligible SMBs do receive the credit.
CAN I APPLY FOR THE CREDIT AND HOW DOES IT WORK?
You can’t apply for the credit as it is automatically applied to your account if eligible. There are no exceptions to this and the credit can’t be split, transferred or refunded. Once the credit is applied to your account, any spend from that point onwards will be covered by the free credit until the full amount is spent. For example one of our clients in the UK has spent £91 of the £220 so they still have £129 that will be covered by the credit (see image below).
Don’t worry if you have no active campaigns at the moment, the credit is valid until the 31st of December.
HOW MUCH DO I GET?
The ad credit amount will depend on how much you have spent on Google Ads, the billing address of your country and the currency of your Google Ads account. Each eligible customer will receive one credit up to a maximum amount of what is equivalent to $1,000 USD.
It is not clear why some accounts receive more than others and the documentation provided by Google is vague (surprise, surprise!!), but basically, what we have seen for our clients is that, the more you have spent on Google in 2019 and early 2020, the higher your credit will be.
CAN I SPEND THE CREDIT ON ALL AD PLATFORMS?
These credits can be applied to all campaign types in Google Ads such as Search, Display and YouTube campaigns.
WHY IS GOOGLE GIVING FREE CREDIT TO SMBS?
Google claim that they are doing this for SMBs as “COVID-19 has posed a particular challenge to these businesses, who may be facing closures and declining revenue even as they find ways to support and protect their employees“ and they want “to show support and solidarity with these businesses as they continue to engage with their customers“.
While this could be true, Google is not a charity so they must have a solid commercial reason for doing this beyond the generic corporate PR statement above. Google have seen advertising revenue drop during Covid-19 and this year, they are likely to see a drop in ad revenue for the first time in 16 years. This is likely Google’s way to get SMB who have stopped advertising on Google to get back online again and to get SMBs who have reduced their spend to spend more.
HOW SHOULD I SPEND THE CREDIT?
Whatever the true reason, all businesses who have this credit should use it before it expires at the end of the year. If you are not doing any advertising on Google at the moment, your first port of call is likely to be search ads. The beauty of search ads is that you are targeting keywords, which if done correctly, reveal tons of intent. Intent driven marketing provides customer with what they really want or need at the moment.
So for example, if you are a hotel in Wexford and somebody is searching for “hotels in Wexford“, then you can be pretty confident that they are looking to book a hotel in Wexford.
However, if you are already actively advertising and spending as much as you think you can on search, you can use this free voucher to expand to platforms such as YouTube and Display. These channels have a much bigger reach than search and can open you up to new audiences.