Google AdSense vs. Google Ad Manager

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Google provides you with many different products to help you monetize your online platforms. Two of the most popular products for publishers to use are Google AdSense and Google Ad Manager, which have dominated the programmatic advertising scene. 

However, it can often be confusing for people to distinguish between the two and decide on which ad monetization tool to choose. 

This is where we come in. Here at, we want to help publishers navigate the world of ad monetization. In this article, we’ll tell you all you need to know about Google AdSense and Google Ad Manager. Keep reading to learn more! 

What is Google AdSense?

Simply put, Google AdSense is an ad network for publishers who want to monetize their websites, blogs, and forums. AdSense provides publishers with access to demand from advertisers and helps set up their ad inventory. Once a publisher has set up Google AdSense on their site, they can earn revenue each time their audience clicks on an ad. 

Operating Google AdSense is easier than most people think. It is especially convenient for small website owners who are unfamiliar with the overall Ad Ops ecosystem and simply want to try monetizing their site. All you really have to do is copy and paste the AdSense code where you want ads to display on your website, and ads will start running. 

Additionally, Google AdSense’s eligibility requirements are quite simple:

  • Your site content must be high-quality, original, and attract an audience.
  • Your site complies with their program policies before you sign up.
  • Applicants are over 18.

Some specific features make Google AdSense unique from other forms of Ad Ops platforms. For example, once you paste the code on your website, the ads that show up are mostly from Google Ads. These ads usually come from smaller companies that use narrow keyword-based targeting for their advertising. The demand for such companies is very small, so the money that comes from these will also be less. 

Alongside Google Ads, AdSense also allows for similar Google-Certified ad networks to place their ads on your website. Once again, most companies who run their ads through these functions are small and tend to have smaller ad spend. This is mainly why Google AdSense has no barriers; even the smallest of websites can access it. If you’d like to learn more about Google AdSense, you can read up on some frequently asked questions.

Advantages of Google AdSense
  • Minimal requirements to sign up
  • Suitable for small and new publishers 
  • Easy to use 
Disadvantages of Google AdSense
  • Cannot access multiple networks 
  • Mainly used by smaller budget advertisers
  • Lower ad revenue as a result of smaller budget advertisers
  • Only basic reporting available 
  • No header bidding 
  • No private auctions for ad space 

What is Google Ad Manager?

Google Ad Manager (GAM) can perform many of the same functions as Google AdSense, but has additional features for publishers looking to scale their ad monetization. GAM is more than an ad network — it is an ad management platform that provides more granular controls, supports multiple ad exchanges and networks (including Google AdSense), and directs ad sales. The most prominent differences between Google Ad Manager and Google Adsense is GAM’s ability to perform as an ad server and as a supply-side platform. So, let’s look at both of these functions.

What is an Ad Server?

As the name suggests, an ad server is basically a server that serves ads to its customers or prospective users. In this role, Google Ad Manager helps the website owner or publisher get the appropriate ads based on their target audience or demographic. The negotiation for these ads is determined by the publishers and Google. It is not automatic. 

As an ad server, Google Ad Manager helps publishers decide what kinds of ads they want to run. In addition to this, the ad server function also allows Google to provide insight into how the publisher’s ads are doing. There are several reports available to publishers which include historical data (clicks, revenue, click-through rate, and total impressions for dates in the past),  reach (estimated number of unique visitors exposed to different advertisers, orders, line items, or ad units in your network over a given time period), and so much more.

Unlike Google AdSense, Google Ad Manager provides you with more perspective and insights into what is or isn’t working with the ads on your site. 

What is an Ad Exchange?

An important component of Google Ad Manager is Google Ad Exchange, something that Google AdSense lacks. An ad exchange is an online platform that brings together both publishers, who have ad space inventory for sale, and advertisers, who want to bid on ad inventory. This virtual marketplace is technology-driven to help both parties get the maximum ROI. Advertisers can reach preferred audiences using targeted campaigns, and publishers have an efficient way to offer ad inventory to a large pool of advertisers. 

An ad exchange uses real-time bidding (RTB) technology to regulate prices on an impression basis. The whole process occurs automatically — and within seconds — between software platforms. A demand-side platform (DSP) is how advertisers and agencies usually connect to an ad exchange, and a supply-side platform (SSP) is what publishers use to make impressions available. 

Advantages of using Google Ad Manager:
  • Can access multiple networks 
  • Great for larger websites 
  • Higher revenue for publishers
  • Advanced reporting 
  • All kinds of bidding are possible 
Disadvantages of using Google Ad Manager:
  • Not suitable for small websites 
  • Will only cater to high traffic sites


Google AdSense and Google Ad Manager are both popular and accessible platforms for you to grow your website. If you’re looking to set up for AdSense, it may be time for Google Ad Manager. If you’re completing new to the ad monetization, AdSense is a great first step!

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