Digital marketing leader Scott Hirsch sits down to discuss how Google will distribute $340M in free ads to small businesses worldwide.


Originally announced in March, Google has now finalized their COVID-19 plan to give $340M in ad credits to small and medium-sized businesses across the country. We sat down today with Scott Hirsch, the CEO of Media Direct to learn more about how this campaign will work, who is eligible and the finer details of the program.


Hi Scott! Can you summarize Google’s massive COVID-19 program for small and medium sized businesses?


Sure. This is a great opportunity for small businesses that are struggling during the pandemic to reach their intended audiences. It gives any SMB that’s been active on Google Ads for the past year one free ad credit for any of their campaigns. The credit can be used across the Google Ad Network on Youtube, search or display and credits are valid until the end of the year.


I think there’s been a little confusion over the idea of an ad credit- how much is each credit worth?


While Google hasn’t fully explained how the ad credits will be implemented, I’m hearing that it will be based on prior campaign activity. So if you’re a small business that’s spending $500/month on your campaigns with Google, it sounds like your ad credit will be worth around that same $500.  Companies that have spent more in the past 12 months would receive even larger credits, but we’re unsure as of today if there’s caps in place or anything like that.


What does the “active on Google Ads for the last year” mean?


From what I’m hearing, the Google credits will be distributed to any small or medium business that spent ad revenue with Google at least 10 months out of 2019 and in January and February of 2020…which is basically the past 12 months before the coronavirus pandemic started in the US. This includes companies that have advertised through agencies like Media Direct; the credit is applied to each Adwords account directly. 


Also, Google has stated that if you are advertising from multiple Adword accounts, you’ll only be eligible for one credit per business. So as long as a company has been advertising for the past year on the same account up until COVID-19 started, they’ll receive the credit.


Will Google notify eligible small businesses directly?


I was informed that every eligible business will have the ad credit appear in their Google Adwords account before May 1st, 2020 and they’ll also be notified by email that the credit is available. As I mentioned earlier, the credit can be used anytime in the 2020 calendar year for a free campaign and we’re advising all of our eligible clients to take advantage of it.


Do you have any recommendations on the types of campaigns small businesses should use with their free credit?


Google has also released a “best practices” for advertising in the COVID-19 era and I think it’s great advice. Lean towards messages that are designed to be helpful, such as changes in store hours or new steps you’re taking to take care of your customers. Image choice is also very important since you want to give a feel of unity in your ad- this is about all of us coming together in an uncertain time.


Scott Hirsch is a serial entrepreneur and CEO of Media Direct, one of the nation’s largest data-driven digital marketing agencies.  Across his 25+ year career, he’s pioneered many of today’s most important digital marketing concepts including email marketing and display advertising. Scott is a regular contributor to Forbes, CEO World Magazine and countless other publications.