Google allocates US$340m ad credits for SMEs, offers WHO ad grants

Google is setting aside US$340 million in ad credits for small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) worldwide with active accounts over the past year, CEO Sundar Pichai said in a blog post. The move aims to help SMBs alleviate some of the cost to engage consumers during this trying time.

The ad credits can be used at any point until 31 December across all Google Ad platforms. According to Google, SMBs that have been active advertisers since beginning of 2019 receive a credit notification in their Google Ads account in the coming months. In addition to the ad credits, Google has also set up a US$200 million investment fund that will support NGOs and financial institutions globally to help provide small businesses with access to capital. Pichai said this is in addition to the US$15 million in cash grants that its charitable arm, Google.org, is already providing to non profits to help bridge these gaps for SMBs. The company is also allocating US$20 million in ad grants to community financial institutions, specifically to run public service announcements on relief funds and other resources for SMBs.

Additionally, US$250 million in ad grants have also been set aside for the World Health Organisation (WHO) and more than 100 government agencies globally. This is to enable them to provide critical information on how to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and other measures to help local communities. According to Pichai, this is an increase from the initial US$25 million announced last month. 

These initiatives are part of Google's latest commitment which sees more than US$800 million being set aside to address the impact of COVID-19 on communities and businesses. The latest commitment will also see academic institutions and researchers getting US$20 million in Google Cloud credits to leverage the company's computing capabilities and infrastructure, as they study potential vaccines and therapies, monitor crucial data, and identify new ways to tackle the pandemic. 

Also, direct financial support and expertise will also be offered by Google to increase the production capacity for personal protective equipment and lifesaving medical devices. Pichai explained that it is working with longtime supplier and partner, Magrid Glove and Safety, to boost production for two to three million face masks in the coming weeks which will be provided to the CDC Foundation in the US.

"Additionally, employees from across Alphabet, including Google, Verily and X, are bringing engineering, supply chain and healthcare expertise to facilitate increased production of ventilators, working with equipment manufacturers, distributors and the government in this effort," he said.

(Read also: YouTube backtracks on COVID-19 monetisation ban placed on creators)

On top of all these commitments, Pichai said Google has also increased the gift match it offers every employee annually from US$7,500 to US$10,000. This means that its employees can now give US$20,000 to organisations in their communities, in addition to the US$50 million Google.org has already donated.

Google is not the only tech giant to have offered aid to small businesses worldwide as well as the WHO. Earlier this month, COO Sheryl Sandberg said it would allocate US$100 million cash grants to help 30,000 small businesses in over 30 countries where its employees live and work. The company is also making it easier for businesses everywhere to find help and receive training and support from Facebook's teams.

Also, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a Facebook post on 4 March that it is giving the WHO as many free ads as it requires for the coronavirus response, along with other in-kind support. "We'll also give support and millions more in ad credits to other organizations too and we'll be working closely with global health experts to provide additional help if needed," Zuckerberg added.