By now you may have heard that due to COVID-19, Google has granted $340 million in ad credits to a number of their small and medium-sized business customers. You may have even noticed notifications in your email or ad account dashboard telling you that you have been granted a credit.
These credits are meant to show support and solidarity from Google to their customers, many of whom are facing closures and drops in revenue due to this “new normal” that the pandemic created.
But what if you don’t see any notifications or aren’t sure why you got the amount you did? We found ourselves asking these same questions on behalf of many of our clients. While many of the accounts we manage received credits, we found some inconsistencies that didn’t make sense and some qualifying accounts that for some reason didn’t get anything at all.
We dug a little deeper and analyzed our own collection of ad accounts to try to find some patterns and answers to the who’s, what’s and why’s of Google’s COVID-19 ad credits. All of our observations are based on data from 108 ad accounts with varying budgets and business types. This is what we found…
Who Got the Credits?
According to Google’s COVID-19 Credit FAQ, not every business who has advertised is eligible. They state these as their parameters:
“Small and medium-sized businesses globally, who have spent with a Google Ads account in ten out of twelve months of 2019, and in January and/or February of this year. Eligible customers are those who advertised directly with us, or through a third-party partner, and adhere to our advertising policies.”
Unfortunately, that means if you just started advertising in 2020 or didn’t advertise enough in 2019 and early 2020, you aren’t eligible. They also have a pretty straightforward one-credit-per-customer rule. If you advertise under multiple accounts or multiple campaign types under the same account, you will still only get one credit.
Even so, in our experience these parameters aren’t exactly consistent. Out of all 108 of our ad accounts, 35 of the accounts didn’t qualify, and therefore didn’t receive a credit. However, 3 out of the 108 accounts met the eligibility requirements but also didn’t receive a credit. After researching and studying each of their accounts to double check for eligibility, we couldn’t find an explanation for why they got nothing.
What Determines the Amount of the Credit?
There are four possible ad credit amounts that were given: $100, $300, $750 and $1,000. Google doesn’t specify how they determined who gets what amount, though it appears to relate to how much a customer spent on advertising. Based on our clients’ spending and credit amounts, we did a little math to see if we could figure it out!
Out of our 70 accounts that received credits, we totaled up how much each spent on ads in 2019 and January and February of 2020. Then we looked to see what the highest and lowest spending was for clients who received the same credit amounts. We found that…
- Clients who received a $750 credit spent between $47,000 and $104,000.
- Clients who received a $300 credit spent between $4,600 and $46,000.
- Clients who received a $100 credit spent between $2,800 and $5,200.
- Because none of our clients received a $1,000 credit, we speculate that you likely have to spend over $100,000 in order to receive $1,000.
The numbers overlapped slightly, but overall we saw a clear pattern.
- Business A spent $5,200 total and received $100
- Business B spent $4,600 total and received $300
- Business C spent 5,400 and received $0
- Business D spent 9,300 and received $0
- Business E spent 25,500 and received $0
We aren’t sure why Business A received less than Business B even though they spent more or why eligible businesses C, D and E spent thousands of dollars and got nothing. For the unlucky businesses that got short changed, it’s easy to see why some have been disappointed with Google’s attempt to give back to their customers.
What Else You Need to Know
The last of the credits should be launched by July 1, 2020, so if you haven’t gotten one by now, it’s likely you never will. You can’t apply for one either, and according to Google, “no exceptions will be made and ad credits cannot be transferred, split or refunded.”
If you did get a credit—congrats! You don’t have to do anything special to accept the credit or apply it to your account. Google will do all of that for you. We have found that sometimes the credits don’t get applied all at once, and it may take some time before the full amount is credited to your account. You can check on the status of your credit in the Billing section of your dashboard under Promotions.
The credit is only applied to future ad spending, so if you stopped advertising in the past couple months, the credit will be waiting for you when you return. Just make sure you fully use it up by 12/31/20 or it will be gone forever!