Google sets aside $800M in ads and loans to help in COVID-19 fight

Google CEO Sundar Pichai announced Friday that his company would be donating more than $800 million in ad credits and loans to help government orgs and small businesses respond to the COVID-19 crisis.

The announcement gives a full breakdown of the deployment, the bulk of which is in credits for Google services:

  • Google will be giving $250 million worth of ad grants to more than 100 government orgs across the globe, including the World Health Organization.
  • They will also be seeding $340 million in ad credits to small businesses with accounts that have been active in the past year. The credits are good through the end of the year.
  • They’ll be giving away $20 million worth of Google Cloud credits to academic institutions and researchers that are tackling COVID-19.
  • $200 million will go to an investment fund for nonprofits and financial institutions to provide small businesses with loans.
  • Google further reiterated they will continue to invest in helping suppliers scale up production of face masks and other personal protective equipment.

COVID-19 is a global crisis and big tech companies like Google have strong global networks that are important to leverage. The global economy is undoubtedly being stressed by the pandemic, with small businesses especially being affected, and Google signal-boosting the World Health Organization and other government orgs with information to disseminate is a good move that more companies should follow.

As with any donation from a big tech company, it’s healthy to look at what recipients are getting and what the institution itself is earning.

Google’s ad business has taken a major pandemic hit as businesses that have temporarily closed up shop or reduced operations have also stopped advertising their services. Giving away hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of ads gets some of these businesses back to their advertising dashboards, lets Google boost the throughput of the competitive ad ecosystem and lands the company some solid goodwill in the process. Giving ads away to government orgs boosts goodwill that could be useful for future lobbying efforts, and bringing academics into the fold with Google Cloud credits could entice those institutions away from AWS or Azure.