This new article on Search Engine Journal
reports that Google has decided to make shopping ads free worldwide from mid-October as a response to businesses struggling financially during the COVID-19 pandemic. If you're in the US, you'll know Google already did this for advertisers based there, but the policy is about to extend to the remainder of the globe too.
The good news for cash-strapped businesses is that they'll soon get access to shopping ads for free - and that applies in Europe, Asia, and Latin America as well as the US - where this scheme has been running since April this year.
This move is apparently intended to get business moving again and motivated almost entirely by the way companies have been impacted by the pandemic:
"And as consumers increasingly shop online, they're searching not just for essentials but also things like toys, apparel, and home goods. While this presents an opportunity for struggling businesses to reconnect with consumers, many cannot afford to do so at scale."
Google is also looking to help out consumers who are unable or unwilling to get out into the world during the COVID-19 crisis. The company notes how widespread the migration to online shopping has become and says this move will make products more available to people that really need them.
"With hundreds of millions of shopping searches on Google each day, we know that many retailers have the items people need in stock and ready to ship, but are less discoverable online."
The article contains instructions on how you can sign up for free shopping ads. If you can pay and would rather do so, you'll still get the option to - and paid ads will appear above free ones in search results.