Difference between Google AdWords and Google AdSense

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Google AdSense is one of the most well-known advertising services and for a good reason. They offer you a large selection of ad sizes, delivery methods, reporting tools, and most importantly prompt payouts.

What is Google Adwords?

Adwords is the platform you can use as an advertiser to show your ads on the Google Search Results Pages, partner websites or the Google Display network (websites that show Google Ads).

One of the main characteristics of Adwords is that you only pay when someone clicks on your ad (Pay Per Click).

When you create an account with Adwords, you can create your advertising campaigns, choose your ads and budget, decide where your want the ads to appear and Google will only charge you when someone clicks on the ads.
Adwords has become very successful not only because it generates a big part of Google’s income but also because PPC does offer a lot of benefits to businesses too.

In general, Google Ads is not difficult to use but if you don’t know how to use it correctly, you may end up losing a lot of money.

In my PPC tips article you can learn how to avoid 7 common mistakes and make a better use of your budget.

When you register with Adwords you can create several campaigns and ads (grouped into ad groups) and each adgroup can be targeted to a specific group of people.

The system allows you to select for which keywords you want your ads to appear and also for which locations, times, days etc.

It is a very flexible platform with a number of options to create campaigns that are aligned with your overall digital marketing strategy and business objectives.

What is Google Adsense?

Adsense is the platform you can use as a webmaster or blog owner (we call these a ‘publisher’) so that Google ads are shown in your website.
When someone clicks on an ad that is shown on your website you will get paid a portion of what the Adwords advertiser pays.

For example:

Let’s assume that a skateboard manufacturer uses Adwords to promote their products and they pay $2 to Google every time someone clicks on their ads.

Let’s also assume that you have a website offering skateboarding tips and you also participate into the Adsense program i.e You allow Google ads to be displayed on your website.

When someone clicks on an ad from your website you will get paid $1,36 (68%) and Google will keep the $0.64.

The calculations above are only an example, there are many factors that play a role when both adwords and adsense decide how much each click is worth but what is certain is that for a click you (as a publisher) will get 68% and Google 32%.

I have explained in more details how Adsense works and how much you can make from Adsense but what is good to understand if you are a beginner to adwords and adsense is that:

Adwords is for advertisers who want to promote their products on the Internet and Adsense is for website owners who want to make money from their content.

AdWords vs. AdSense: The Main Difference

Conceptually, the main difference between AdWords and AdSense is this: AdWords is for advertisers, while AdSense is for publishers. When I say “publisher,” I mean anyone who has a website, is willing to sell ad space on it, and is primarily interested in putting out regular content (as opposed to selling products and services). The New York Times, for instance, would be considered a publisher.
If you’re familiar with the Display Network, in which AdWords users pay to run display ads on sites across the web, you can think of AdSense as the platform that allows website owners to accept display ads on their website in exchange for money. It’s not just display ads, though. AdSense matches both display and text ads to your site based on your content and who’s viewing it. You’re not giving up total control, either—AdSense lets you choose what the ads on your site will look like and where they’ll end up.

The difference between Google AdWords and Google AdSense are as follows:

Adsense & Adwords

Let’s take a look at the three major differences between them:

1. AdSense Is for Website Publishers, AdWords Is for Businesses

The fundamental difference between AdWords and AdSense is who they’re designed for. AdWords is for advertisers and AdSense is for publishers, or website owners.

  • AdWords enables businesses and marketers to advertise on Google’s network (search, display, etc).
  • AdSense enables publishers to reserve space for AdWords placements on their website (text, video, images).


Both AdWords and AdSense work together to complete Google’s greater advertising network: website owners put up space for Google’s ads (AdSense) and businesses set budgets and ads to display on Google’s advertising network (AdWords).

2. AdSense Pays Website Owners, Businesses Pay Ad-words

The second big difference between the that Ad-words is used to buy advertising from Google, where AdSense is to sell advertising space to Google.

  • With Ad-words, businesses are paying Google to place their ads on Google’s search and display network.
  • With AdSense, website owners are getting paid by Google to offer up precious website real estate for Ad-words placements.


Businesses that use Ad-words will pay Google a sum based on their campaign budget. AdSense allows publishers to monetize their websites by displaying relevant Google Ad-words ads. Publishers get paid when visitors click on the ads.

Google adsense balance

3. The Process for Setting Up Ad-words and AdSense Are Different

To get started using Ad-words or AdSense you’ll need to sign up for a separate account for each.

To sign up for Ad-words, you can set up an account and begin advertising in just minutes. All you need to start is:

  • Your Google Account
  • Sign in to Ad-words using your email and password
  • Set your preferences

You’re now ready to create campaigns and place your ads across Google’s advertising network.

To sign up for AdSense, Google requires a bit more information about you and your website. You’ll need:

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

After you’ve registered with AdSense, you’ll then be able to:

  • Select the type of ads you want to display on your website (text, image, video, etc)
  • Select where on your webpage you want the ads to display
select the site

What’s great about AdSense is the ease and automation once it’s set up.

Google will automatically pick the most relevant and highest-paying ads for you.

Can I use Google Adsense and Google Ad-words together?

Can I use ad-words to promote my website so that more people will visit and click on my adsense ads and make money?

Ans: NO. This used to be the case in the past but not anymore.

What some marketers did in the past was to run ad-words ads to get traffic to a website and then aggressively place adsense ads on the page so that they get more clicks and make profit from the difference they paid for the ad words ads and what they received from Adsense.

This no longer works and should be avoided because:

Ad-words has now more strict policies on what you can advertise on their platform. The system is mainly for businesses that sell real products and services online and not for affiliate or MFA (Made For Adsense) type of websites.

Ad-words does not allow the landing page to have adsense. This means that while it’s ok to run adsense on your website and also use Ad-words, the landing page (this is the first page visitors will see when they click an ad and enter your website), should not have adsense.

This is a very important rule that should not be violated in any way because you risk in losing both your ad-words and adsense accounts and then you will be looking for adsense alternatives.

Adsense ads placement policies do not allow for aggressive placement of ads. It is recommended not to show more than 1 ad above the fold (that’s my recommendation and not the official adsense rules. You can read them here), and this will reduce the number of clicks your ads may receive thus reducing your earnings.

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