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Google AdSense Vs Google Ad Exchange (Google AdX)

AdSense Vs AdX
Let's get answers for all the AdSense Vs AdX questions.

Before getting into AdSense Vs AdX, let’s understand the basics and Google’s monetization products for publishers. 

Sidenote: We’ll talk about the three Google’s ad products – Google AdSense (ad network), Google Ad Exchange or AdX (ad exchange), and Google Ad Manager (ad server). To access Google AdX, you need to sign up for Google Ad Manager and configure it properly. Don’t fret. We’ll direct you to relevant resources throughout the post to help you get started with all three of them.

Thanks to the exponential growth of ad tech ecosystem, publishers are now capable of connecting with hundreds and thousands of media buyers across the globe and take advantage of programmatic advertising in scale.

Arguably, Google AdSense is one of the best ad networks (but not the only one) for publishers to monetize their ad inventories. However, every platform has its own pros and cons and Google AdSense is not an exception. Though it is a reliable source to monetize your ad space, it has some limitations including restricted language support and demand sources, no transparency, higher middlemen fee (or revenue share), and lack of innovative ad formats. 

In order to meet the needs of mid-sized and premium publishers, Google introduced its ad exchange (dubbed as Google AdX). To put it simply, it’s the next step in your monetization. Okay, first things first.

Table of Content:

What is an Ad Exchange?

In short, an ad exchange is a programmatic marketplace that stands in-between publishers and advertisers and facilitates them to trade media through middlemen like Supply-side platforms and Demand-side platforms in real-time. Here’s more on ad exchanges

So, What is Google Ad Exchange (Google AdX)?

Just like other ad exchanges, Google AdX is a marketplace that offers a pool of ad impressions to the buyers via real-time bidding. But, unlike AdSense, Google Ad Exchange is a platform that cannot be simply integrated into a website. 

What we meant by that is – a publisher cannot access Googles AdX without Google’s ad server platform i.e. Google Ad Manager (Google DFP). So, to take advantage of Google AdX, it is mandatory to have an account with Google’s ad server. 

Now, you may be wondering why would a publisher bother with Google’s ad server and how Google’s Ad Exchange is available to publishers through it. We’ll clarify the answer to these questions in the next paragraph, but first, let’s see why AdX is better than AdSense. 

Why Google Ad Exchange is better than AdSense?

Though both AdSense and AdX do the same thing for publishers i.e. helping them to connect with millions of advertisers and monetize the advertising space, Google’s Ad Exchange offers additional benefits, including: 

  • With Google AdSense alone, a publisher can only display ads from Google Display Network (GDN) or Google-certified Ad Networks (GCAN). In contrast to that, Google Ad Exchange can give publishers access to non-Google-certified Ad Networks (demand-side platforms). Thus, more demand. 
  • As we said before, Google Ad Exchange provides more transparency to the publishers and advertisers. Google AdX allows publishers to make their inventory defined as Branded, Semi-branded, or Anonymous, or a combination of any two. A publisher can hide its details (website URLs, or publisher ID) from the demand partners.
  • Google AdX has partnered with some of the top technology providers (i.e. Integral Ad Science, comScore AdXpose or vCE, and DoubleVerify BrandShield), which, in turn, enable publishers to ensure brand safety and better user experience. Also, with Google’s ad server, a publisher can take advantage of advanced in-built filtering and blocking features.  
  • With Google Ad Manager and AdX, you can expose the premium ad inventory to a selected number of advertisers and monetize at higher ad prices (PMPs and programmatic guaranteed deals). Besides, AdSense doesn’t allow publishers to set minimum CPM rates (floor prices) but Google AdX does.
  • Google AdX provides an advanced reporting feature that enables publishers to check the performance of ad exchanges or other demand partners.

One aspect where Adsense outshines is that in AdSense, there’s a 21-days payment processing period. But, in the case of AdX, a publisher gets paid after the following month ends*. For instance, if you’ve earned $5000 in August, you’ll be paid on Sep 30.  

*For both cases – AdSense and Ad Exchange, payment is initiated by Google once the publishers reach the payment threshold value.

Now that you have understood why AdSense isn’t enough for a publisher with millions of impressions, it’s time to get it set up on your website.

Not all publishers can get access to the Google AdX account. So, before getting started with Ad Exchange, you need to know if you’re eligible for it.

What is the Eligibility to get Google’s Ad Exchange Account?

In order to get Google’s Ad Exchange Account, a publisher has to meet the following eligibility criteria. 

Traffic Requirement – To become a preferred AdX partner, a publisher must have tens of millions of monthly page views on the website. There’s no specific number here, but we’ve heard you need more than 10 million page views to give it a try. 

Content type  – Also, the content present on the website shouldn’t be forbidden and promote illegal activities in any way.

Supported Languages – Also, there are a few languages that aren’t supported by Google Ad Exchange.

You can know more about eligibility and sign up for Google AdX here

However, if you’re disappointed to know that your website doesn’t meet minimum traffic eligibility requirements and qualify for a Google Ad Exchange account, then don’t be because there’s a solution for everything. And, we’re going to discuss it in the following section.

Can I get access to Google Ad Exchange with less than 5MM page views?

Yes, you can. Even if you don’t have 5 million monthly page views on your website, you can get an Ad Exchange account through Google MCM Partners.

Once you get access to Google’s ad exchange, you can add this primary (default) account along with AdSense to Google Ad Manager (DoubleClick for Publishers) to get demands from both – ad network and exchange. In case, if you don’t know what Google Ad Manager is, you need to read this piece of ours to have a better understanding of the basics of Google DFP.

As of now, we assume that you know that ad serving can be done by Google Ad Manager (ad server) and to do that, you need to link both accounts (AdSense and AdX) to the Google Ad Manager account. So, the next question is – how to link the two accounts to Ad Manager. Since we’ve already talked about how to integrate AdSense to Google Ad Manager in the article, we’ll try to focus on Google’s Ad exchange in this post.

How to link Google’s Ad Exchange account to Ad Manager (DFP) account?

After signing up on Google Ad Manager and procuring access to AdX, you can link Ad Exchange to Google Ad Manager and serve ads on your remnant inventories through it. Follow the below steps to link an Ad Exchange account to Google’s ad server. 

  • Go to the Google Ad Manager and Sign in.
  • Then click on Admin > Linked accounts. Here, click Ad Exchange > New Ad Exchange link.
  • Enter the Publisher ID associated with your Ad Exchange account.
  • Then, enter a Display Name which you’ll use to create an Ad Exchange line item. Also, add the email address that was used to sign to Ad Exchange.
  • Now, you need to fill in some additional details related to account verification i.e. ZIP code or last 5 digits of your phone number associated with your Ad Exchange account.
  • At last, Save.

Now that you have got an Ad Exchange account added to Google Ad Manager with AdSense, your website is just a few steps away to serve ads from multiple demand partners (exchanges, networks, etc.). To start serving ads, you need to create and define line item type (Ad Exchange) in the Google Ad Manager. If you don’t know how to do it, follow the below steps –

  • Sign in to your Google Ad Manager account.
  • Go to Delivery > Orders > Create a new order.
  • Then, add a line item and select the type as an Ad exchange. Here, choose the Ad Exchange account linked to your Google Ad Manager account. And, you can also select inventory targeting.
  • Click Save.

What’s the Difference Between Google AdSense Vs Google Ad Exchange?

Although Ad Exchange and AdSense ads can compete with other demand partners, they do not compete with each other. It depends on Google to select either Google AdX or AdSense to deliver ads for the remnant inventories of a publisher. Typically, the highest paying ad will be selected by Google to ensure the best possible ad revenue. 

So, the question isn’t AdSense Vs AdX, it is AdSense or AdX. As you’re here, we assume you already have a Google AdSense account. If you can get Google Ad Manager and Google AdX account, go for it and you don’t have to worry about which one to choose as you can run with both of them.

In fact, you can get rid of the Google AdSense tag on your website and then replace it with GPT (tag from Google Ad Manager). To summarize it, you need to pass the eligibility requirements to get Google AdX and use it along with AdSense. Google Ad Manager is necessary to access and serve ads from Google AdX.

Optimal Google AdX Setup

If you’re exploring Google AdX, then you should start using header bidding as well. As you could see, Google AdX won’t compete with AdSense, and header bidding is one of the most-effective ways to add more ad exchanges (AppNexus, OpenX, etc.) and enable competition.


Google Adsense Google AdX
1 Google Ad Manager GAM is not necessary to access Adsense GAM is required to access AdX
2 Reports Google Adsense does not provide much information related to the ads being delivered on your site AdX reports from GAM can be far more granular than Adsense reports.
3 Real-time bidding A lot of demand in Adsense comes from businesses that do bulk purchasing of the inventory on a contextual basis. The rates can be lower for such targeting. A lot of demand in AdX comes via real-time bidding process. RTB can yield higher rates.
4 Google Certified Ad Networks (GCAN) Google Adsense allows demand from Google Certified Ad Networks only. You can have additional demand from non-certified demand partners.
5 Private Auctions Private auctions are not possible with Adsense You can have private auctions with AdX
6 Floor Price AdSense doesn’t allow publishers to set floor prices. You can set floor prices with AdX
7 Payment Period 21 Days 30 Days
8 Traffic Requirements Adsense does not have an actual minimum traffic requirement. You need to have traffic in millions to be eligible for AdX
9 Competition Adsense does not compete with AdX demand AdX does not compete with Adsense demand

Being a global platform, Google ad exchange can, indeed, bring you the best revenue for your remnant inventories. Exposing the ad inventories to numerous advertisers in real-time, a publisher can leverage Google’s AdX solution to optimize and monetize every ad impression. So, if your site is big enough or growing constantly, it’s high time to get in touch with a Google Account Manager or a Google MCM Partner. Did we miss anything? Let us know in the comments.

Automatad Team

At Automatad, we help publishers to monetize better without hampering the user experience. Our products are live across hundreds of publishers, earning them incremental ad revenue with every passing second. You can request a free audit to get an estimated revenue uplift today.

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  • April 22, 2020 at 6:08 pm

    The article says adsense and adex do not compete with each other and also there is one more statement google choose adsense or adex based on highest paying source, its nothing but agiaan competition right or is there any other strartetgy google has here to decide whether adex or adsense should serve

    • April 27, 2020 at 5:51 am

      Yeah, Google AdX and AdSense do not compete with each other. But they can separately compete with other line items. Over time, Google should be able to identify the best performing one for you. Again, it’s not a direct competition. As Google tend to optimise the overall yield for publishers, it’s safe to assume that it will eventually pick the best of two based on historic performances.

  • August 26, 2020 at 4:06 am
    Writer Daylight

    Google adsense and Google AdX, Can i using two in my website sir?

    • August 26, 2020 at 11:58 am

      Yes, you can have both. But only one will bid for your impression at a time. That is, AdSense and AdX wouldn’t compete with each other as both are from Google.

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