Google AdSense vs. AdX: Which One Should You Choose

Updated on: March 4, 2024
Ad Exchange and Ad Network are both advertising services offered by Google. Both can be used to generate ad revenue from your website.

Before we dive into the differences between Google AdSense and Google Ad Exchange (AdX), let’s talk about the basics of Google’s monetization products for publishers. There are three main products: AdSense (an ad network), AdX (an ad exchange), and Ad Manager (an ad server). To access AdX, you must sign up for Ad Manager and set it up correctly. But don’t worry; we’ll guide you through it and provide helpful resources.

Thanks to the growth of the adtech industry, publishers now have access to a vast network of media buyers worldwide and can take advantage of programmatic advertising at scale.

While Google AdSense is a great option for publishers to monetize their ad inventory, it’s not the only one out there. And like any platform, it has its pros and cons. AdSense is reliable but has limitations, such as restricted language support and demand sources, a lack of transparency, higher fees, and limited ad formats.

That’s where AdX comes in. Google’s ad exchange is designed for publishers who want more control over their ad inventory and higher rates. Think of it as the next step in your monetization journey. But first, let’s explore the differences between AdSense and AdX.

What Is an Ad Exchange?

In short, an ad exchange is a programmatic marketplace between publishers and advertisers. It facilitates them to sell and buy ad impressions through real-time intermediaries like Supply-side and Demand-side platforms. 

So, What Is Google Ad Exchange (AdX)?

Like other ad exchanges, Google AdX is a marketplace offering buyers a pool of ad impressions via real-time bidding. But, unlike AdSense, it is a platform that cannot be simply integrated into a website. 

A publisher must have Google’s ad server platform, i.e., Google Ad Manager (Google DFP), and meet other eligibility criteria to access AdX. Now, you may be wondering why a publisher would 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 Is Google Ad Exchange 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 their ad inventory, Google’s Ad Exchange offers additional benefits. Here’s how.

  • With Google AdSense, a publisher can only display ads from Google Display Network (GDN) or Google-certified Ad Networks (GCAN). In contrast, Google Ad Exchange can give publishers access to non-Google-certified Ad Networks (demand-side platforms). Thus, more demand. 
  • Google Ad Exchange provides more transparency to publishers and advertisers. It allows publishers to define their inventory as Branded, Semi-branded, 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 top technology providers (i.e., Integral Ad Science, ComScore, etc.), enabling publishers to ensure brand safety and better user experience. Also, with Google’s ad server, a publisher can use advanced in-built filtering and blocking features.  
  • With Google Ad Manager and AdX, you can expose the premium ad inventory to several advertisers and monetize at higher ad prices (PMPs and programmatic guaranteed deals). Whereas AdSense doesn’t allow publishers to set minimum CPM rates (floor prices), 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 there’s a 21-days payment processing period in AdSense. 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 set it up on your website.

As mentioned above, not all publishers can access the Google AdX account. So, before starting with Ad Exchange, you need to know if you’re eligible.

What Is the Eligibility to Get Google’s Ad Exchange Account?

To get a Google Ad Exchange Account, a publisher has to meet the following eligibility criteria. 

Traffic Requirement – 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 try it.

Content type – Website content shouldn’t be around sensitive topics such as adult content, gambling, guns, etc., and promote illegal activities in any way.

Supported Languages – Google doesn’t support all the languages for the AdX partnership.

Want to know more about how to access AdX? Check out our detailed article here

And if you’re disappointed that your website doesn’t meet minimum traffic eligibility requirements and qualify for a Google Ad Exchange account, don’t be because there’s a solution for everything.

Can I Access Google Ad Exchange with Less Than 5 Million Page Views?

Yes, you can. 

You don’t need five million monthly page views on your website to get an Ad Exchange account through Google MCM partners. Once you have access to AdX, you can integrate it with your AdSense account and add it as a primary account on Google Ad Manager (DoubleClick for Publishers). 

This allows you to receive demands from both ad networks and exchanges. Note that you must link AdSense and AdX to your Google Ad Manager account to serve ads on the website.

So, the next question is – how to link the two accounts to Ad Manager. Since we’ve already talked about how to integrate AdSense into 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 to Ad Manager (DFP) account?

After signing up on Google Ad Manager and procuring access to AdX, you can link both 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 used to sign to Ad Exchange.
  • Now, you need to fill in some additional details related to account verification, i.e., ZIP code or the last 5 digits of your phone number associated with your Ad Exchange account.
  • At last, Save.

Now that you have an Ad Exchange account added to Google Ad Manager with AdSense, your website is just a few steps away from serving ads from multiple demand partners (exchanges, networks, etc.). You must create and define the line item type (Ad Exchange) in the Google Ad Manager to start serving ads. 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. Choose the Ad Exchange account linked to your Google Ad Manager account here. And you can also select inventory targeting.
  • Click Save.

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

While Ad Exchange and AdSense ads can compete with other demand partners, they don’t compete with each other. Rather, Google determines whether to use Google AdX or AdSense to deliver ads for a publisher’s remnant inventories, selecting the highest-paying ad to maximize revenue.

Therefore, the question isn’t whether to choose AdSense or AdX, but rather whether to use AdSense or AdX. Assuming you already have a Google AdSense account, obtaining a Google Ad Manager and AdX account allows you to use both, eliminating the need to choose between them. You can even replace the Google AdSense tag on your website with GPT (a tag from Google Ad Manager).

Here’s a quick overview of the differences between AdSense and Ad Exchange:

    Google AdSense Google AdX
1 Google Ad Manager GAM is unnecessary to access AdSense. GAM is required to access AdX.
2 Reports Google AdSense does not provide much information about the ads being delivered to 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 a real-time bidding process. RTB can yield higher rates.
4 Google Certified Ad Networks (GCAN) Google AdSense only allows demand from Google Certified Ad Networks. You can have additional demand from non-certified demand partners.
5 PMP Deals PMP deals are not possible with AdSense. You can have PMP deals 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 has no minimum traffic requirement. You need to have traffic in millions to be eligible for AdX.
9 Competition AdSense does not compete with AdX’s demand. AdX does not compete with AdSense’s demand.

Wrapping Up

Being a global platform, Google Ad Exchange can bring you the best revenue for your remnant inventories.

A publisher can leverage Google’s AdX solution to optimize and monetize every ad impression by exposing the ad inventories to numerous advertisers in real time. So, if your site is big enough or growing constantly, it’s time to contact a Google Account Manager or a Google MCM Partner. Did we miss anything? Let us know in the comments.


What Is the Eligibility to Get Google’s Ad Exchange Account?

To be eligible for Google Ad Exchange, publishers must meet certain requirements, including having a minimum of 5 million monthly pageviews, complying with Google’s policies and guidelines, and having a content-rich and user-friendly website. Publishers must also have a good reputation and be able to provide high-quality ad inventory.

Can I Access Google Ad Exchange with Less Than 5mm Page Views?

No, publishers must have at least 5 million monthly page views to be eligible for Google Ad Exchange. However, smaller publishers can still access it with the help of a Google MCM partner.

What’s the Difference Between Google Adsense Vs. Google Ad Exchange?

Google AdSense and Google Ad Exchange are both advertising platforms run by Google, but they have different target audiences and features. AdSense is geared towards smaller publishers and offers a simpler interface, while Ad Exchange is designed for larger publishers and offers more control over ad inventory and pricing. Ad Exchange attracts larger advertisers looking for premium ad inventory, while AdSense attracts smaller advertisers looking for cheaper ad inventory.

Is AdX Better Than Adsense?

It depends on the publisher’s needs and goals. AdX offers more control over ad inventory and typically pays higher rates to publishers, but it also requires more technical knowledge and a dedicated account manager. AdSense is easier to use and is better suited for smaller publishers, but it pays lower CPMs and has less control over ad inventory.

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