REUTERS: Alphabet Inc's Google on Wednesday introduced new advertising features intended to help local businesses get more customers and recover from the coronavirus pandemic.
The features come as retailers across the United States were battered after being forced to shut their doors in March as the health crisis spread, and are now navigating reopening as the economy confronts a recession.
Google, the largest digital advertising company in the world, said people searching on their mobile phones for local services like air conditioning repair or carpet cleaning will now be able to book those services directly through Google.
Small businesses, using a Google tool that lets them easily set up advertising campaigns, will be now be able to promote their business for free on Google Maps until the end of September, the tech giant said. These companies will be able to place a pin on Google Maps, normally a paid advertising feature, and highlight services they offer such as curbside pickup or delivery.
The features for small businesses are intended to help people find items in stock locally at a time when many products are still out of stock at major retailers due to the pandemic, said Jerry Dischler, vice president and general manager at Google, who oversees the company's advertising products.
"We play an important role to match demand with businesses around the world," he said in an interview.
Google said Wednesday it would donate an additional US$200 million in free advertising to nonprofit organizations working on issues like the COVID-19 response or fighting racial injustice. The company has now committed a total of US$1 billion in free ads for nonprofits.