A lot of people have often wondered what the differences are between Google Ads (formerly AdWords)  and AdSense. To a beginner, both might seem like the same thing. And a lot of people think of both as two names for the same thing.

However, that is as far from the truth. Google Ads and AdSense are two very different advertising platforms offered by Google. Both have their benefits and are meant for different users with different use cases.

If you have ever faced the dilemma of Google Ads (PPC) vs. AdSense and which one you should use, then this post is for you. We have highlighted the key differences between both platforms and what they are used for.

So, let’s take a closer look at Google Ads vs AdSense to understand the differences between the two.

Google Ads and AdSense differ in a lot of aspects. The only similarity is that these are both Google products meant for advertising. Other than that, they are completely different.

Here are the key differences between both the platforms that you should be aware of if you’re considering using either of them.

1. Use Case

The key difference between Google Ads and AdSense is that businesses use Google Ads while publishers and website owners use AdSense. That is the most significant difference between both of these advertising platforms; each platform is designed for a different user and use case.

Businesses use Google Ads to advertise their brands and products. They can create and display these ads across Google’s affiliated sites and on Google.com.

The purpose of Google Ads is lead generation, and businesses spend money on these to drive traffic to their website and get conversions.

Publishers or website owners use AdSense to allow advertisers to display ads on their websites.

2. Payment

With Google Ads, businesses and advertisers need to pay money to get their ads displayed. Whereas in the case of AdSense, publishers get paid to allow advertisers to place ads on their website.

So, you get money through AdSense platform, and you spend money on Google Ads.

Advertisers can select a budget for their Google Ads campaigns and pay a certain amount for their campaigns; with Adsense, publishers get paid for each click on advertisers’ ads on their website.

So, with Google Ads, you can control the amount of money that you want to spend. However, publishers get paid for each click, and all they can do to earn more is to get more site traffic.

Also, advertisers can select whether they want to opt for a “cost per click” or “cost per impression” payment system on Google Ads. Publishers have no choice on what payment system is followed and will get paid based on whatever model the advertisers are supporting.

3. Places Where Ads are Displayed

Google Ads are displayed on Google and Google affiliated sites like AOL and Ask.com that are a part of the Google search network. These ads can also be displayed on Google’s display network, which includes content sites excluding search engines.

The most popular form of Google Ads are the ones that are shown at the top of Google’s search results. These appear as any of the other search results, but actually, are sponsored ads and are usually displayed right at the top.

With AdSense, ads are displayed only on the website of the publisher who is using AdSense for their website.

For example, check out this travel blog that has enabled AdSense and displays ads in the right sidebar.

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4. Limits on Number of Ads

AdSense earlier used to limit the number of ads that could be displayed on a page, but that policy has now been lifted. According to the latest AdSense policy update, the only caveat is that the ads should not exceed the valuable content on a page.

So, excessive advertising on any web page is discouraged, but other than that, there is no limit on the number of ads that can be placed on a page.

However, with Google Ads, advertisers can have only one of their ads displayed on a page at a time. It is possible that users will see different ads from a single advertiser, but Google Ads will never display two ads from an advertiser on the SERP (Search Engine Results Page).

In fact, Google Ads follows an ad rotation policy where they serve different ads based on how likely each is to get clicks and search query. But, in any case, only one ad is displayed at a time.

5. Ad Optimization

Another crucial difference between Google Ads and AdSense and is especially crucial for advertisers.

Google Ads is a handy advertising platform that provides ad optimization options to help advertisers achieve the best results from their ad campaigns. Google Ads leverages Google’s machine learning technology to optimize ads and serve ads that are more likely to perform better.

It looks at a lot of factors like search term, device, location, keyword, and more to determine which ads to be displayed for each search query and user.

So, different people might see different ads from the same advertiser. This is akin to split testing that advertisers perform to check which of their ads perform well and which don’t. And, it is a very useful feature as it helps them improve their advertising strategy.

However, the same is not true for AdSense as there are no such ad optimization options for AdSense.

6. Set-Up Process

The process to set up Google Ads account differs from that for AdSense as these are two different advertising platforms offered by Google.

The process to set up an Google Ads account is much simpler and can be done in a few minutes. All you need is a Google account using which you can sign in to Google Ads and select your currency and time zone. And voila! You can start advertising by creating your campaign.

Setting up an AdSense account requires a few more steps than that. You need to fill the following mandatory information before you can register for AdSense.

  • Your website URL
  • Account type
  • Language
  • Your name and address
  • Phone number

Apart from that, you also need to go through the AdSense policies to understand the basic dos and don’ts of using AdSense.

Once you agree to the policies and sign up for AdSense, you can then select the type of ads that you want to display on your website. These could be text ads, video ads, image ads, etc. You can also select the ad placement on your web pages and choose where on a page do you want to allow advertisers to display their ads.

The best part about using AdSense is that once you have set up your account, you don’t need to worry too much about which ads to place on your website. Google will help you with that and find the most relevant and profitable ads for your website automatically. All you have to do is set up an AdSense account, and Google will handle the rest for you.

But remember, that not all websites are eligible for a Google AdSense account and you need to meet specific criteria to qualify for that. And, advertisers also prefer to display their ads on websites that are relevant and get a certain amount of site traffic.

7. Control Over Ad Content

When using Google Ads, advertisers have complete control over ad design and content. From text to image or any other ad element, they can design and create different ads. They can create one or more ad sets from scratch or by using Google Ads templates and serve them across the Google network.

Publishers using AdSense cannot control the content of the ads that are displayed on their website. This is because they are only allowing advertisers to display advertisements on their website, but do not have a say in the design of the ads. However, they can still control the ad formats and placement on their website.

So, Google Ads provides much more design flexibility than AdSense.

Final Thoughts

Google Ads is a platform used by businesses and advertisers to run ad campaigns to drive traffic to their website. They can select their budget, ad design, ad content, and have a lot of control over the entire process. And, of course, they need to pay money to Google to run these ad campaigns that are displayed across the Google network of sites.

AdSense, on the other hand, is a platform used by publishers and website owners to monetize their website by placing ads on it. They do that by allowing advertisers to advertise on their websites and get paid each time a site visitor clicks on an ad.

So, now that you know the differences between the two select the one that meets your requirements. If you’re an advertiser, you should use Google Ads. And if you have a website that you want to earn from, then register for AdSense.