Google Adsense vs Adwords. Which Ad Platform is Better?

Having experience both with Google Adsense and especially Adwords, I would like to share if and when one advertising platform or the other may better benefit your online business.

With Adwords, my general experience has been that when it has worked for me (Made about $100k), it made me a lot more money. With Adsense, the overall experience was that I didn’t make nearly as much (Close to $100), but there are also cases where a third option may be more profitable and I’ll go into that as well. Don’t know the difference between both programs?

Here it is:

What is Google Adwords?

google adsense vs adwords

It’s an advertising branch of Google where you can promote your website on the actual search engine by targeting specific keywords. In other words, your ad will appear right on Google’s search when a person types the keyword you’re targeting. 

I have experienced many benefits from this program personally and have helped a few clients with their campaigns in the past and I can tell you that if Google allows your ad to run and by using correct advertising methods, you can amass a crazy amount of traffic. But it is also a lot more strict and there’s many ways your account can get closed (such as with bridge pages).

What is Adsense?

It is another ad platform that’s run by Google, but in this particular case, you don’t run any ads, Google places ads on your website and pays you for each click the ad gets (here’s more info). You don’t really have much control here over the type of ads that are run on your page though.

Note: Here you don’t spend anything directly, with the other program, you do spend money.

Here is also an official article comparing both these services.

How does Google benefit from this if it pays you through this program? 

Well the ads that run on your page/s are actually people advertising through Adwords. In that program, there is an option for people to promote their business on what’s known as the “display network” (it may be called something different now), but basically that extra feature of adwords is actually Google putting your website up on Adsense friendly sites. 

In other words, people use and pay Adwords to run their ads on not just the search engine, but also websites that allow Google ads to be run on.

Let’s not forget a “little” place called YouTube:

Now in addition to websites having the adsense option, YouTube also has this. In other words, if you make YouTube videos, one of the ways to generate revenue is to allow this program to run on your videos. 

You may notice nowadays that when you watch videos, prior to them starting or in several parts of the video (typically more so on longer videos), you’ll get advertisements shown. Well many times, this is also adsense in action. But I would argue, that if you want to go with YouTube, these methods would make you more.

Which platform generates more money?

Well that depends…For Google itself, it is Adwords.

But what about me? Which can make me more money?

But if you are debating between using one of the other, the answer will depend on the type of site you’re running, and how much can be earned through using one platform or the other. And in certain cases, you may actually stand to benefit from not using either.

This is actually how it is for me personally, although this is not because I don’t want to use either platform, it’s just that I prefer it this way and I can make more money without either.

Which types of pages will have more monetary benefits from using Adsense:

In my experience, broad, but high traffic generating pages that don’t really aim to sell anything personal, be it affiliate promotions or services will benefit much more from using this program.

I typically use examples of pages that have recipes and/or things like general information such as health advice, something where the type of information that is written is given away for free with the intent to JUST share, not profit. 

Those types of pages in my opinion are better suited for the Adsense platform. BUT I also discovered better platforms like Mediavine which would pay you FAR more.

Now in terms of how much money this can make, it all depends on 2 things:

  • The amount of traffic the broad and informative page/s gets.
  • The amount of money earned per each click the visitor makes. 

Which page/s stand to benefit more from using Adwords?

Honestly, in recent years, I would say local business websites. I used to do affiliate marketing through the Adwords program, but it is much more difficult nowadays to use that. Local business pages on the other hand should definitely be utilized in combination with it.

These types of pages typically get a lot more approvals from the program to be run on the search network and furthermore, if you examine how often people look for businesses (typically food related businesses) on their phones and computers, you will see a lot of businesses are showing up. This is evidence that it’s a popular platform for them to advertise under.

When will a website not benefit from either?

In my opinion an affiliate website, but it depends on a few things:

  • I always recommend ANY affiliate website at least TRY to get approved to use Adwords. It’s a great extra traffic resource.  
  • If you are promoting products which typically make low commissions and it benefits your website more so (given the traffic numbers) to run adsense (or Mediavine if you can get enough traffic), then you should use that instead. 

However, if an affiliate website is not approved or not profitable enough to be used by either platform, you can depend on the following:

SEO. Organic traffic has always worked for me and it has been exclusive of either platform, meaning that if I wasn’t approved for Adwords or adsense, I could still rely on organic traffic.

  • Even if you have a YouTube channel, you can still use affiliate marketing with and without adsense to generate money.

Additional platforms worth noting:

If you aren’t able to use either of the main programs, consider Bing Ads as a great alternative. I personally use it for my affiliate site/s.

My final thoughts:

Like I said, the type of website you have and what your monetary goals are will decide which platform suits you better and furthermore, which one will make you more money.

  • I’ve personally seen (and have experienced) much more money being made from using Adwords on my affiliate sites in the past and nowadays more so for local businesses.
  • I have also seen websites that use adsense make a lot money because of the factors I mentioned above.

It’s not that 1 program is superior to the other, it’s just that one suits you better and like I said, sometimes you can make more without either. 

Both programs are amazing opportunities if the circumstances allow for it. If you understand how both are used, you can also become a middleman in helping people who DON’T understand them help them set them up so they make money and pay you for providing the service (there is also a lot of money in this type of business as well). 

aad

17 thoughts on “Google Adsense vs Adwords. Which Ad Platform is Better?”

  1. Another helpful article Vitaliy. When I first started my website I applied for Google Adsense. Obviously I got knocked back due to having low traffic but fast forward a year later and I’m looking at applying again. 

    What level of traffic do you think would be good enough to get approved ?

    • I think any daily organic traffic your site gets would allow you to be eligible for Adsense Marvin. That’s how it was for me when I originally got approved for it. But I honestly would not recommend it for 2 reasons:

      1) You will either get a little bit of traffic, allowing you to use this system, but make very little from it. So when the traffic is coming in small numbers, don’t do Adsense, do affiliate marketing instead.

      2) Or you will have A LOT of traffic coming to your site which would also allow you to also use Adsense, but if this happens, upgrade to a better company like Mediavine

      And there’s even a company like Adthrive which is the best out of all of them and if you can get to 100k traffic a month, they would pay you good money.

  2. This was super helpful to me! I run an affiliate site and am thinking about my marketing for 2017. I definitely want to give Adwords a try, but I also have been struggling to know how adsense fits in. I can see now that it makes complete sense to use it on the broad, general interest pages or blogs. I have always been conscious of my visitor experience too. I don’t want my site to become so “ad-heavy” that it takes ages to load and looks a mess. Do you think that’s important as well? You have helped me see a way around using both types of advertising though, so thank you for your insight.

    • Yes sites that have too many ads basically act as a counter to their reading experience so it makes it harder for them to focus on the content, so in a limited amount, ads can work, but in large amounts, they can cripple your sales.

  3. Hello Vitaly,

    Thank you so much for this post as I have not seen this comparison before. For me it is very timely as I have been wondering if adsense makes sense (no pun intended) for my affiliate marketing site.

    I remember when many beginning bloggers were making lots of money with Adsense. I know that is not the case anymore unless they are well established authority sites.

    Adwords may have worked for some also but now you need to be careful with your budget as your could spend lots for little results.

    I have Adsense on my affiliate site and will be making changes since you confirmed something I have suspected that organic and SEO traffic is better if you can balance your content with your marketing efforts plus patience.

    I am not an experienced marketer but have learned tons in this last year and now I know what to do.

    Thanks again for opening my eyes

    Angela

  4. Hmm..More things to think about.

    I’m using adsense because I feel like at least there is some way to potentially make money while I decide how to monetize the site.

    Does that make sense or is that a bad strategy?

    I enjoy the content creation more than anything else so I feel like if I use adsense I don’t need to compromise my content in any way to fit in with some promotion.

    Alison

    • If you only care about your content then you can certainly keep the ads up Alison, but keep in mind they will likely pay very little, proportionally to your traffic.

      If, regarding the first part of your question, you use Adsense while your site is picking up authority and waiting to change the promotion to something more affiliate marketing, then you’d still make very little money from adsense until that happens.

      Personally, I avoid the program because in my opinion, there needs to be a balance of good content and good affiliate marketing to create the online business.

  5. There is so much information to be absorbed. It makes a difference now that I know these two and which one would suit. The fact that you mention over and over again that not using it maybe is better makes me feel a whole lot better because I’m a bit reluctant to use those two. It’s really great when you advise that organic traffic works with or without them. It gives an assurance that even if you don’t use these services, you will still be able to succeed. For a newbie, there are just so many things to learn and some are just scary just because it’s outside of your comfort zone.

    • Which is why you need to begin with only the 1 organic approach i talked about, it’s going to make those other options a lot easier to figure out once the first strategy works, believe me.

  6. I am glad I found this post, as I thought that Google Adwords and AdSense were really one in the same. Now I see the difference. I have actually had Google ads on my websites, but had to remove them because the advertising content had nothing to do with the content of my website and I got complaints.

  7. I have been trying to determine the difference between Adsense and Adwords. I have heard great things about both. You have helped me understand it all much better. My site doesn’t have a lot of pages to it yet, so do you suggest me building my site up a little more before applying for Adsense?

    • Like I said in the content, it depends on your site. If it’s an affiliate page, I would suggest not going for Adsense and focusing on getting organic traffic, then selling affiliate promotions.

  8. Hi Vitaliy. This is a great post! I always got confused between adsense and adwords. You cleared that up easily. Many thanks for that.

    You mentioned that Google has to approve our site before we can join those programs. What criteria does my site need to have to be approved?

    • Depends on which program, if it’s Adsense, you will need to have at least several pages, possibly a blog and some existing traffic coming in. As long as there is no profanity and the site appears to be of high quality, you should be approved.

      For adwords, it’s a little bit more tricky, if you have a local business website set up with necessary pages such as a contact page and services pages, you should be ok. For affiliate sites, you may run into some problems. Overall, the criteria in my past experiences with them is that a high quality website (good content, good navigation and good relevant content that accurately reflects your keywords) should get approved.

  9. I’ve used Bing ads before to direct paid traffic to my landing pages for affiliate products. However, nowadays I mostly rely on SEO and organic traffic.
    What’s the difference between Adwords and Bing Ads when it comes to driving paid traffic?

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