Google Ads vs. AdSense: What’s the Difference?

If you are new to digital advertising, you might know the difference between Google Ads vs. AdSense. (Though you probably hear the terms thrown about a lot!) Both are Google advertising platforms. In this article, we will tell you the differences between the two. We will also help you decide which one makes sense for your website.

Google ads vs. adsense

Main Difference Between Google Ads vs. AdSense

The main difference between Google Ads and AdSense is that Google Ads is used by advertisers and AdSense is used by publishers.

Both Google Ads and AdSense are a form of pay-per-click advertising. Both display ads with text, image, video, and more.

Google Ads

Google Ads is the platform that lets you advertise your products or services on, the Google Search Network, and the Google Display Network. You might know it as Google AdWords. You can use Google Ads to run ad campaigns to drive targeted traffic to your website. Ideally, some of this traffic converts to sales. You pay Google a set amount per ad click.

Google AdSense

Google AdSense is the platform that allows website owners to monetize their websites by earning money from Google Ads displayed next to their content. Each time one of these ads is clicked on, the publisher earns money. If your website has a large enough audience, AdSense is a great way to make money.

How Does AdSense Work?

AdSense works by matching ads to your website based on your content and visitors. First, you make your ad space or spaces available. Then, the highest bidder wins the space on your website. Finally, you get paid!

difference between adsense and adwords

More Differences Between Google Ads and AdSense

There are some additional differences between Google Ads and AdSense.


Google Ads has a much longer history than Google AdSense. Google Ads launched all the way back in 2000, while AdSense was launched a few years later in 2003.

Ease of Setting Up an Account

How to Set Up a Google Ads Account

It is extremely simple to set up a Google Ads account. All you need to do is create a Google account, sign in to Google Ads with your Google account information, and set your time zone and currency preferences.

How to Set Up An AdSense Account

Signing up for AdSense is a little trickier. First, you need to submit an application that includes your website URL, website language, account type (individual or business), name, address, and phone number. Then, you need to agree to several AdSense policies. These policies include:

  • Not placing ads on sites that have incentives to click on ads
  • Not placing ads on sites with pornographic content
  • Certifying you’ve read the AdSense Program Policies
  • Not clicking on the Google Ads you’re serving through AdSense
  • Acknowledging you don’t already have an approved AdSense account
  • Acknowledging you are at least 18 years old
  • Certifying the name you are using matches the name on your bank account

Once you submit this information to Google, you can either use an existing Google account for AdSense or create a new Google account. When you sign into your account, you’ll be told that your application is being reviewed. Typically, you’ll receive a response in one or two days.

Ad Design Flexibility and Options

Google Ads advertisers have a lot of flexibility when it comes to their ad text. However, AdSense publishers can’t change the text within the ads appearing on their website. AdSense publishers can control the type of ad formats that appear on their pages, the size of the ads, and the colors of the ads.

Google Ads advertisers on the Google Display Network have more ad formatting options than advertisers on Google and the Google Search Network, including choice of font, template, and logo.

Ad Limit Per Page 

AdSense publishers can only place three content ads, three links ads, and two search boxes on each of their pages. However, Google Ads advertisers can only have one of their ads delivered at a time on Google, the Google Search Network, and the Google Display Network.

Click Options 

If you advertise on the Google Display Network, you can choose a cost-per-click (CPC), cost per conversion, target ROAS, or cost-per-impression pricing system. If you are a publisher on the Google Display Network, you have no choice whether the ads that appear on your website have a cost-per-click or cost-per-impression pay model.

Payment Expectations 

When you advertise on Google Ads, you have a basic idea of how much you will spend on your campaign by setting maximum bid amounts for your keywords. On the other hand, AdSense publishers earn what they earn. If you publish ads using AdSense, you don’t control the ads’ cost per click or cost per impression values. However, you can aim to earn more money by building websites devoted to a competitive industry and increasing those sites’ web traffic.

difference between Google ads and adsense

Google Ads vs. AdSense and More Digital Advertising at SEO Design Chicago

Whether Google Ads or AdSense is the right choice for you, SEO Design Chicago’s professional digital advertising experts can help you learn more. We have been working with Google Ads for over a decade now. We are also experts in implementing Google AdSense for our clients to help them earn money. Let us help you run ads on your site or create Google ads for your website!


  • What is the main difference between Google Ads and AdSense?
  • What is Google Ads?
  • How do I set up a Google Ads account?
  • What is AdSense?
  • How do I sign up for AdSense?

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