Difference between AdWords and AdSense

Google Adwords and Adsense are two money-making devices that have absolutely brought the tech giant to where it is now. These two ultra-successful advertising programs are different, and knowing which one to use can get you the best results.


adwords vs adsense
Google AdWords ads

Google AdWords is all about online advertising. It allows advertisers to compete for specific keywords to get their ads on Google’s search results pages and affiliate websites that show Google ads. Each time users click on a specific ad copy, the advertiser pays Google a specific amount. Affiliate sites where the ads appear get a portion of the income generated.

Having grown into one of Google’s top income generators, AdWords offers a suite of options that allow advertisers to pick the best one that will work with their budget and type of campaign. It’s highly customizable, and can be tailor-fitted according to advertising strategies and requirements.

AdWords features PPC, or pay-per-click, and can be any of the following advertising options: cost-per-click or CPC, cost-per-acquisition, cost-per-mile (i.e. cost-per-thousand-impressions), site-targeted ads for banner, text, interactive ads, and remarketing.

With AdWords, distribution of advertising can be local, national, or international. Text advertisements are required by Google to have a headline with a maximum of 25 characters, two additional lines of text with 35 characters each, and a 35-character display URL. For image-based ads, Google requires them to be compliant with the Interactive Advertising Bureau standard sizes.

Aside from being able to target specific locations and languages, IP addresses can be filtered out and not receive the ads. This also works for excluding locations for a more targeted approach.

Google AdSense is used by many websites (including ours – you can see the ads inside this article) to earn money from their content. Introduced in 2003, AdSense is currently one of the most widely used advertising networks. It has helped small websites that lack the resources to launch advertising campaigns and hire sales people, to earn from advertising revenues.

The AdSense program allows website publishers to serve Google-managed advertisements to a targeted audience and site content. Revenues are generated via the per-click or per-impression scheme. Good content is critical to generating traffic to a website, and of course, in generating revenue as well.

Web publishers who would like to generate money from advertising on their sites need to create an AdSense account to register the website. Google will check the website to make sure it’s compliant with the guidelines; otherwise, the website will be rejected. Once accepted, ads will begin to pop up and the publisher is paid for the clicks. An approved publisher can run AdSense on any number of websites as long as guidelines are met.

AdWords vs AdSense

So what’s the difference between AdWords and AdSense?

AdWords is an advertising platform for businesses or individuals who wish to advertise products or services on Google’s search results page or affiliated websites in the Google Display Network.

Adsense is for publishers who want to generate advertising revenue by having Google ads appear on their website.

Advertisers place bids on specific keywords related to their product or service, so anytime a user types the keywords, their clickable advertising will come in Google’s search results.

Advertisers pay Google for the clicks, and the placement of their ads depends on factors such as the cost-per-click and Quality score (usefulness and relevance of ad). In AdSense, a publisher gets paid monthly for the ad clicks.

Comparison chart

AdWords AdSense
Advertising platform for advertisers Advertising platform for publishers
Advertisers bid for keywords Publishers submit website for approval
Advertisers pay Google for each ad click Publishers get paid depending on how many times the Google ad was clicked.


Check out this video about how Google AdWords is different from AdSense.