Google Ads vs AdSense

Last updated


Daniel Wade


July 28, 2022

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Have you ever wondered what the difference between AdSense and Google Ads is? Well, worry no more! In this Google Ads vs AdSense review, we have everything you need.

Google Ads is a program for advertisers looking to promote their services and products on YouTube, Google Search, and other sites on the web. As for AdSense, it is a program for publishers looking to earn money by displaying ads on their websites.

Most beginners to the world of search marketing usually hear of the two primary Google advertising platforms, mainly AdSense and Google Ads. Nonetheless, depending on your objectives, one of the two programs may be suitable for you, but what exactly is the difference between AdSense and Google Ads? Which is the most suitable option for your site? If you are facing this dilemma, then this guide is for you. This post defined each platform separately and underlined the vital differences between both platforms and how they both function.

In this guide, you will find practical solutions and industry expert recommendations to help you make an informed investment solution and reap more from these tools. This guide contains helpful, verified, and actionable information gathered from credible sources, including the manufacturer's site. Ready to learn more? Let's get going into our Google Ads vs. AdSense review.


Table of contents

Google Ads Vs. AdSense

What Is Google Ads?

The Google Ads platform was initially called Google AdWords. It enables advertisers to effectively make ad placement bids to generate traffic to their sites. Typically, these placements may either be in the Google Display Network (network of apps, sites, and so on that show (Google) display ads) or Google's SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages).

Search ads that usually appear in the Google SERPs are an excellent choice if you already know that your product is on-demand and your visitors are using search engines in satisfying this demand.

As for the display ads/banner or Google Display Network ads, these are relatively more visual. As such, they are ideal for helping grab attention while you 'rent' space where your audience regularly hangs out while online.

Nonetheless, Google also boasts another advertising program (released three years after the inception of Google Ads) known as Google AdSense.

What Is Google AdSense?

This is a fantastic Google program that facilitates publishers to place ads and other 'content' on their site for a specified 'commission.' Ideally, such publishers encompass a section of the Google Display Network, which advertisers may leverage through Google Ads.

The Google AdSense program is ideal for typical website publishers already receiving traffic and are looking to monetize it.

Ultimately, although the Google Ads platform is designed to help attract advertisers, the AdSense platform works towards enticing publishers. Google Ads is helpful for advertisers looking to drive traffic to their websites while publishers use the latter platform (AdSense) to

make money from the existing website traffic.

If you want to understand these programs better, be sure to read on as this guide covers the significant differences between Google AdSense and Google Ads. What's more, you will also discover their purpose and how to make full use of their remarkable features. This way, you can make informed choices on how to distribute your ad budget properly.

Let's get started.

What Is The Difference Between Google Ads and AdSense?

Google AdSense and Google Ads differ in multiple aspects. Even so, the main similarity between these programs is that they both are suited for advertising. Besides this, these programs are different.

Check out the main differences between these programs that you must know if you are contemplating using either.


What is arguably the most significant difference between AdSense and Google Ads is their usage. Typically, Google Ads is popularly used by businesses, while website owners and publishers use AdSense. Both these platforms are built for different use cases and users.

Businesses usually use Google Ads in advertising their products and brands. This way, they can build and display these ads on and across multiple Google-affiliated websites.

As for Google Ads, it is solely used in lead generation, and businesses invest in driving traffic to their sites and get the much-needed conversions.

Website owners and publishers use Google AdSense in allowing advertisers to showcase ads on their sites.

The Set-Up Process

True to the fact that AdSense and Google Ads are individually unique, their set-up process is also


With Google Ads, the set-up process for an account is somewhat more straightforward, and you can do it in a few minutes. Ideally, what you need is a Google account to sign in to your Google Ads and then choose your time zone and currency, and you're in! In a few minutes, you can begin advertising by creating your ad campaign.

As for AdSense, the set-up process is a bit lengthy. You must fill in a few mandatory details before registering for AdSense, including

  • Account type
  • Phone number
  • Your website URL
  • Language
  • Your Address and Name.

Besides this, you need to read the AdSense policies before agreeing to start with AdSense. On agreeing to the AdSense policies and signing up, you need to choose what ads your website will display.

Usually, this can range from image ads, video ads, and text ads, among others. It also allows you to choose your web pages' ad placements and pick where your advertisers can display their ads on a web page.

With AdSense, the best aspect is that you needn't worry much about the ads to showcase on your site after setting up your AdSense account. Remarkably, Google will aid you with this and identify the most profitable and relevant ads for the site automatically.

Payment Expectations

When it comes to Google Ads, advertisers and businesses must pay money to ensure their ads are displayed. As for AdSense, the publishers receive commission/pay to allow advertisers to place ads on their sites.

Ideally, you earn money by using AdSense and then spend it on Google Ads. As an advertiser, you choose a reasonable budget for your Google Ad campaign and then pay a substantial amount for your campaign. But with AdSense, a publisher gets paid for every click on the advertisers' ads on the publisher's site.

Generally, Google Ads offers you the option of controlling how much money you want to use, while with AdSense, you get a payment for every click. In essence, what you need to do to earn more is get more traffic to your site.

Additionally, advertisers can choose whether to opt for a 'cost per impression' or 'cost per click' payment option on Google Ads. On the other hand, though, publishers don't have the luxury to choose on the payment system and are paid based on an advertiser's preferred payment model.

Ads Display Option

The Google Ads are showcased on Google and Google-linked websites like and AOL-all part of the Google search network. These ads may also be displayed on the Google display network that includes various content sites except for search engines.

The best example of Google Ads forms is results displayed at the top of search results on Google. These ads usually appear like any other standard search result, although they are typically sponsored ads. They are displayed at the top.

When it comes to AdSense, the ads are showcased only on the publisher's website, particularly the publisher using AdSense on their website.

Ad Limit Per Page Provision

Google AdSense initially restricted the total number of ads a user could display on a web page, although this policy was scrapped. Looking at the current AdSense policy, the ads must not exceed the valuable content on a given web page. As such, too much advertising is discouraged on web pages, but besides this, the number of ads you can place on a web page has no limit.

Conversely, Google Ads only allows advertisers to have just one of their ads showcased on a given web page at a time. While it is possible for users to see different ads from the same advertiser, Google Ads never displays two ads from a single advertiser on the Search Engine Result Page (SERP).

In truth, Google Ads operates using a specific ad rotation policy that allows them to serve different ads according to the potential of an ad to get a click. Even so, you can only display one ad at a time.

The Ad Optimization Option

This is yet another remarkable difference between Google AdSense and Google Ads. Ideally, Google Ads represents a valuable program that offers ad optimization to assist advertisers in achieving optimal results from their ad campaign. This tool leverages the unique Google machine learning technology in optimizing ads and usually serves ads with a higher chance of performing better.

Google Ads evaluates multiple factors such as location, search word, keyword, device, among others, to determine the ads to display for every user and search query.

Therefore, different individuals may see other ads from a similar advertiser. This resembles split testing, which advertisers execute to identify which ads are performing well and those underperforming. Ideally, this feature is quite helpful as it assists them in promoting their advertising policy.

Conversely, this does not apply with AdSense since it offers no such optimization options. So, since you now know where the difference lies between Google Ads and AdSense, choose the option that best suits you. Essentially, if you are a website owner looking to earn from it, AdSense is the most sensible option. And if you are an advertiser, you should choose Google Ads. 

Google Ads vs AdSense


Daniel Wade

Daniel Wade

After working for multiple digital advertising agencies and managing hundreds of client accounts and spending millions of dollars via Google Ads, Facebook Ads, Native Ads and Direct Media Buying, I took things out on my own and started SparrowBoost. Now, my tight-knit team and I continue to get smarter and more efficient at running our own campaigns and we share our knowledge with you.

Learn more about SparrowBoost