Google have announced their contribution to the UK’s COVID-19 recovery. Its headline item being a huge amount of free advertising that will be available to SMEs and charities across Britain. They are also investing in ‘Digital Garage’ of coaching and training, grants and new tools to make businesses’ online presence more effective.

Google’s global commitment is $340 million in ad credits for businesses all over the world.

Who is eligible for the Google Advertising credits?

The advertising credit will be available to UK SMEs, government organisations and NGOs. There is no clarity about the proportion of the overall amount that will be assigned to the business sector.

For SMEs to be eligible, they must have a Google Ads account and have bought advertising 10 months of 2019, or in January or February 2020.

There is no application process. Google will decide who is receiving the advertising credit. If it’s you, you’ll see it displayed on your Google Ads dashboard.

What else do I need to know about the free ad credits?

There is a maximum of £800 per business and it must be used by December 31st 2020. You can use it for any future Google ad campaign including YouTube, Display and Search. The scheme launches on 1st July.

What’s the Digital Garage?

Google have called their free mentoring scheme ‘Digital Garage’ and they are working with Digital Boost on this provision. They are offering 10,000 hours of 1:1 training sessions for businesses to improve marketing, Google rankings and how to adapt their business model to deal with post-pandemic conditions. These will be run by Google employees and coaches. The hope is that the skills and knowledge from these session will have an immediate and long-lasting positive impact on each business.

Founder of Digital Boost, Sherry Coutu, said: “In the past, many leaders of small businesses and charities have struggled with building up a significant online presence. COVID-19 has exposed this lag in digitalisation in dramatic ways. I’m excited that this partnership with Google allows Digital Boost to provide hope: you can turn to us for multiple digital skills boosts to survive the COVID-19 crisis and these boosts will also ensure you have the digital skills to be competitive in the long-run. The gift of mentoring doesn’t last a day, a week or a month – the skills and knowledge imparted last a lifetime.”

Alongside these 1:1 sessions, there is also a programme of webinars on a range of topics, like livestreaming and remote working.

Chair of the Federation of Small Businesses, Mike Cherry, said: “The first-place many consumers turn to when looking for a product or service is Google, and helping small firms to be more visible as they reopen will go a long way to helping them get back on their feet. The mentoring courses and webinars on digital skills and advertising credits all being offered for free will be crucial and have a positive impact on the small business community. They won’t just help in the short-term but will help firms make their mark as they navigate a new normal, which will be defined by greater digitisation over the years ahead.”

New Online Tools

Google have also created some new online tools to support businesses work online more efficiently. For example, having the ability to buy gift cards or make a donation.

Why are Google providing this free support?

Google aim to help one million businesses by the end of 2021 through all the elements of their support package.

Google Managing Director UK, Ronan Harris, said: “Local businesses are the lifeblood of our communities. Like millions up and down the country, we want to help small businesses both survive and thrive. Through this programme we’re aiming to upskill SMEs and charities by helping them adapt to operating in a post lockdown environment. Despite the ongoing uncertainty, we want to show that having an online presence can have a transformative impact on offline businesses.”

What does the government think?

Chancellor Sunak is very positive about the help, saying: “Our small businesses form the backbone of the British economy, fuelling growth and creating jobs in communities across the country. This has been a difficult time for them, and that’s why I am delighted that today Google have announced this plan to help small businesses recover from the crisis. We will all play a part in this national effort to get the UK open for business again safely. Google’s initiative to support our smallest firms is a great step forward in getting our economy back on track.”

Is it just Google that’s giving support during the crisis?

Google aren’t the only global giants helping us during the crisis. Ebay are supporting charities to move their retail side online. And Amazon have put together a small business ‘accelerator programme’.

Obviously, the Treasury’s support package is constantly evolving. Chancellor Sunak recently announced ‘A Plan for Jobs 2020’, which has a raft of measures designed to help different sectors.

It’s worth checking out all the help available and seeing what might be beneficial to your business.