The Effect Of Coronavirus (COVID-19) On Google Ads

As fall and winter approach, it is clear that coronavirus is going to stick around far longer than many first expected. Everyone is doing their best to adapt to the new realities caused by the pandemic.


While most areas have had their lockdowns lifted and many businesses have reopened their doors, there is still an inconvenience of shopping in person in-person. For some people, it is more than an inconvenience, but even a fear.


As a result, many businesses are evaluating their online strategies. Many of these businesses are looking to Google Ads as a way to reach Internet shoppers and potential clients.


This begs the question: what effect is all of this having on Google Ads as a platform? That’s what we will try and uncover on this page.

From The Mouth Of Google Ads

Since the beginning of the pandemic, PPC Marketing has had a support page available to advertisers. This page has been updated whenever a new update occurs with Google’s approach to the COVID-19 situation.


Before we start discussing the effect of coronavirus on Google Ads, let’s start with the platform’s own response:


The impact of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is evolving every day and we are working hard to maintain a safe advertising ecosystem for users, advertisers, and publishers…We will continue to evaluate the situation to both address new products/services that are being used to exploit users, as well as re-enable certain products/services when the situation stabilizes.


In the next sections of this page, we’ll unpack some of the ways that Google Ads has regulated advertising during the pandemic. We’ll also look at ways that Google Ads has helped small and medium-sized businesses get back on their feet.

Restricted Ad Content During COVID-19

One of the points that Google Ads makes in the above statement is with regards to restricting the advertising of products or services that may be exploiting audiences during the pandemic. There are two main ad content restrictions that are in place during the COVID-19 crisis:


Selling of facemasks: In June, Google decided to restrict the sale of facemasks and other protective facewear. This came at a time when global supplies of masks were running low. Google wanted to do their part to ensure that masks were available to healthcare workers, as well as protect consumers from advertisers looking to take advantage of the shortage of masks.


Content and messages related to Coronavirus: Google wants its users to be able to easily find information related to the pandemic, especially regarding the situation in their local area. Some government organizations, healthcare providers and other groups use ads to disseminate this type of information.


That said, Google also doesn’t want misinformation to reach users, or products being advertised that promise to protect, cure or prevent coronavirus and its spread. Thus, they’ve been very restrictive with what types of organizations and companies are allowed to advertise COVID-related content and messages.

Sensitive Events Policy On Google Ads

Another effect of coronavirus on Google Ads is an update to their “Sensitive Events Policy.” This policy prevents advertisers from trying to capitalize on tragedies like natural disasters, public health emergencies (i.e., coronavirus) and more.


Google will look at any pay per click ads that relate to a sensitive event and flag content that it feels is trying to capitalize on the situation. Google will also remove content that it finds is lacking sensitivity to the subject or just plain inappropriate.


Here is a quick rundown of some of the triggers that will flag content during a sensitive event:

  • Trying to profit from a tragic event, with no apparent benefit to others, especially those affected.
  • Inflating prices on items that are difficult to find because of a natural disaster or other event.
  • Selling products/services that are in high-demand and short supply by professionals, such as facemasks for healthcare workers.
  • Incorporating event-related keywords with the intent of using the tragedy to increase website traffic.

Ad Credits For Small Businesses

Google has also implemented a couple of new strategies to help marketers and business owners that may be struggling during this tough situation.


One of the ways that Google is providing relief to businesses is by offering free ad credits to certain small and midsized companies. Google has reportedly put $340M towards this program that is designed to alleviate some of the financial pressures facing these businesses and allow them to get the revenue flowing again through ads.


Wondering how you can get some free ad credits? Well, there is no application process. Google is doing the legwork of finding businesses that fit the profile and then dispersing the funds automatically. If you are selected to receive ad credits, you’ll receive a notification email from Google Ads.


It’s worth noting that only businesses that have advertised consistently through 2019 and the beginning of 2020 qualify for this program.

Free Product Listing Ads

Another charitable change by Google Ads is to offer free product listing ads during the COVID pandemic. This is another move to try and help struggling companies get back on their feet and start bringing in new business. Whereas the free ad credits only apply to some companies, the free product listings are available to any business that wants to use them.


For businesses that suffered greatly during the lockdown, free product listing ads were Google’s way of trying to encourage these owners to take their sales to the online environment. Even with lockdown pressures fading and businesses beginning to open their doors, a lot of consumers simply prefer shopping online during this time. These free listings help any business connect with these customers.


Every business is feeling the effects of COVID-19 to some degree, Google included. These changes to the Google Ads platform are all positive and aimed at making the advertising community more honest and positive.


It is also nice to see that Google Ads is trying to do its part in helping businesses traverse this precarious time by offering ad credits and free product listings.


If you want more information on the effect of COVID-19 on Google Ads, there is a Google support page that is updated with all of the latest changes and new policies regarding advertising during the coronavirus.

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