AdWords and AdSense are two separate advertising platforms offered by Google that have very different use cases. Often used in the same context, it’s easy to mistake one for the other.

Let’s take a look at the three major differences between them and how you can start using both today.

google adwords vs adsense


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 AdWords

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

  • With AdWords, 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 AdWords placements.


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


ad sense payouts dashboard

3. The Process for Setting Up AdWords and AdSense Are Different

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

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

  • Your Google Account
  • Sign in to AdWords using your email and password
  • Set your preferences


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


adwords signup


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


adsense how it works


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.

That wraps up the 3 major differences between Google AdWords and AdSense.

Do you have any experience monetizing your website with AdSense?

Let us know in the comments below.

Want to learn more about getting started with AdWords?

Check out our post What is Google AdWords Express & Is it the Right Choice for My Business?

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