Google AdX vs. AdSense: A Definitive Guide

When it comes to making the best use of digital advertising space on your website, Google AdSense is one of the most popular choices. There is another relative of AdSense, called Google AdX, that is preferred by high-level publishers for a number of reasons. 

Google AdX vs. AdSense

While AdSense provides easy approval and monetization, AdX promises better revenues. But that is just an oversimplification, and other key differences are involved. If you find yourself caught between deciding whether to choose Google AdSense or AdX for your monetization goals, you’re at the right place. 


In this definitive guide, we will discuss what AdX and AdSense are, the key differences between them, and how you can set up either of the digital advertising platforms for your website. 


Let us jump right in!


What Is Google AdX?


Google AdX is an ad exchange that allows the real-time buying and selling of digital advertising space. It is a programmatic advertising exchange that uses RTB(Real-Time Bidding) to determine inventory price. A stock exchange works on a similar principle where trading is conducted in real-time. Due to this reason, the pricing of inventory is more competitive than in AdSense, yielding better revenues for people using this network. 


“Programmatic is buying digital advertising space automatically, with computers using data to decide which ads to buy and how much to pay for them.”


-Kenneth Kulbok, LinkedIn Programmatic


Advertisers prefer AdX because it is better for scalability, reaching high-value publishers, and targeting specific and high-tier users. RTB also helps advertisers bid in real-time and allows them to advertise on their preferred publisher’s platform. 


Publishers prefer AdX because of higher revenue, access to tier-1 countries, and better control over ads and pricing data. Getting access to AdX has specific requirements which are not easy to meet for a small or mid-level publisher, making it quite exclusive to high-level publishers and advertisers. 


Bonus Definition: Ad inventory


In digital spheres such as websites, ad inventory refers to the space available that publishers can use for advertising purposes. 

How does Google Ad Exchange work?


AdX works by gathering data about advertising space from publishers and offering it to the interested advertisers. When a user is on a publisher’s website, the publisher sends an Ad request to AdX. This request contains data related to inventory space, the website, and the user. Advertisers start bidding in real-time to secure that inventory, and the highest bid wins. 

How does Google Ad Exchange work?

 AdX’s ad server then sends the creative to the publisher’s website in the form of a JavaScript code placed on the publisher’s site. AdX also takes a cut out of the final price for facilitating this transaction between the publisher and the advertiser. 


AdX’s server helps advertisers track, target, and report on the campaign. Users need to have a Google AdManager account to access AdX. 


What Is Google AdSense?


Google AdSense is a relatively advertising platform. It helps many content creators, publishers, and website owners monetize their websites by selling advertising space. In contrast to AdX, Google AdSense is more accessible for low to mid-level publishers. 


Publishers install a piece of code on their sites and choose the space where they want to display the ads. Advertisers bid on those spaces once AdSense goes live and are billed per click or impression. The publisher is paid on a per-click or impression basis as well. Advertisers need to be using the Google Display Network, Google Ads, or other Google products to advertise using AdSense. 


The entry requirements for Google AdSense are low. Family-friendly content, no copyright complaints, and no invalid traffic are a few conditions that need to be met by publishers to get access to AdSense. This makes AdSense highly popular among publishers. 41% of Google AdSense customers are from the United States, and 6% are from the United Kingdom. Even though AdSense is better suited for tier 2 and tier 3 geos, it is still more commonly used than AdX.


AdSense also provides relative ease in comparison to AdX. The publishers do not need to provide as much manual input. Things like ad placements and ad size are automatically taken care of by the platform. 


How Does Google AdSense Work


In contrast to AdX, AdSense doesn’t work in real-time. There is no real-time bidding which means there is low competition. This also leads to lower revenue and lower ad prices. The advertisers pay differently for different ads, so the amount earned by the publisher also varies. 


AdSense matches ads to publishers based on the content and the demographic data of the visitors to their website. 


Let us now take a look at the crux of this article, i.e., the key differences between Google AdX and AdSense.


Google AdX vs. AdSense-Key Differences:


  1. AdX brings in better revenue with the proper optimization. Publishers can grow their ad revenue to up to 20-50% with AdX because of the real-time bidding, optimized dynamic flooring setup, and preferred deals. This applies especially when the ads are optimized for tier 1 geos. 
  2. AdX is not as easy to access as AdSense. AdX has higher entry requirements, such as 5 million page views per month. 
  3. Unlike AdSense, AdX is accessed through Google Ad Manager, a separate platform.
  4. AdSense is easier to use for a broader range of publishers. Even non-technical users can start generating revenue with AdSense. In contrast, using AdX will require you to have an ad tech developer, ad operations expert, and an AdX partner. 
  5. The minimum payout is relatively low in AdSense. A $100 minimum payout means AdSense is an ideal choice, even for low-traffic publishers. AdSense is also better suited for low to mid geos tiers and outperforms AdX in them. 
  6. AdSense is easier to configure than AdX but has less control. Even though AdSense can place ads automatically on a website, it doesn’t allow publishers to control the way ads are displayed or sold. Furthermore, publishers can not sell directly to advertisers or set floor prices, which is not the case with AdX. 


Let us take a deeper look into one of the most critical differences in choosing between AdX or AdSense, i.e., revenue.


AdX vs. AdSense: Revenue


Revenue is undoubtedly the biggest reason many people are curious about learning the differences between AdX and AdSense. Therefore, this area requires an in-depth comparison apart from the aforementioned key differences. 


AdSense’s pricing system works based on Google’s algorithm. It doesn’t allow publishers to set the floor price for ads manually. AdSense also buys all the space offered by the website owners and then prices it as per the bids set by the advertisers for each campaign, keyword, and ad. Even though there is room for optimization and A/B testing, the lack of pricing control means the revenue is relatively lower than AdX. 


In contrast, AdX is much like the stock market, or a big marketplace, where agencies, publishers, big brands, networks, and direct buyers come together to buy and sell ads through live auctions. These auctions happen in seconds, and the competition allows for better pricing. 


Moreover, AdX allows you to set your floor prices, so you have to find the perfect balance between your desired revenue and a low enough pricing that the buyer doesn’t get disinterested. The process is complicated and requires expert professionals to help you get the best out of your AdX account, but the revenue is higher. 


Lastly, with AdSense, your revenue percentage remains unchanged. As a publisher, you get 68% of the revenue, and 32% goes to Google. The number dips down further to 51% for the publisher with search ads. 


In contrast, you can negotiate the percentage with AdX. But again, it is not as easy as it sounds. You must be a big enough player with a dedicated account manager to leverage your position into a higher revenue percentage. However, if that is possible, even a low increase in revenue percentage can bring in good money because of the huge volume(5 million +).


Ultimately, it is the decision between complexity or ease, level of the publisher, and the traffic. For low to mid-level publishers, Google AdSense is a hassle-free choice to generate revenue that is almost passive in nature. While the big players prefer AdX because of the scalability and control it can bring to their online business. 


Now that you know the key differences between AdX and AdSense, the next step is to learn how to set up either of the two options for your website. 


How To Get Started With:




Getting started with AdSense is quite simple. Go to the AdSense website and click on the sign-in. You need to have a Google account to do that. In the next step, submit your website details and wait for approval. Ideally, you should receive an email from AdSense in a few days. 


The email will provide you with tags to place in your website’s code. This will allow your website to display AdSense ads. From here on out, AdSense will manage everything from the payment to the placement of the ads. 




As already discussed, the entry threshold to the AdX network is higher. But publishers can access Google AdX with a Google Certified Publishing Partner. The partner takes a cut of the revenue but makes it easier for you to access AdX. However, if you want to directly access AdX without onboarding a publisher, you must meet the following criteria:


  • A minimum of 5 million page views per month. 
  • At least 10 million ad impressions per month for the last six months. 
  • No history of invalid traffic, policy violations, or unsafe content. 
  • A Google Ad Manager account.
  • An up-to-date ads.txt file with the information of all the buyers. 


Even if you meet the above requirements successfully, you’re still not through the AdX gate. Google AdX is an invite-only network depending on your Google Account Manager. There might also be additional requirements depending on the content type you’re publishing and ad viewability. 


Final Word


This guide will help you decide which road to go down depending upon your unique situation, your monetization goals, and the technical hurdles you’re willing to face. AdSense is quick, easy, and gets the money rolling in, while AdX is exclusive, complicated, and better at paying big bucks. 


Keep visiting the PapayAds blog to find similar information, guides, and answers related to all your digital advertising questions.


Calculate your ads revenue

*Calculation based on estimated website traffic from tier 1 and 2 countries using 3 display banners per page and good ads viewability.

Apply now

Due to the large number of requests and our policy to dedicate our best service to all customers we are able to accept in the Premium Service only websites with a minimum traffic of 400.000 monthly pageviews. If your business is smaller, please apply to the Self Service. We currently provide support in English, Spanish and Italian language.