Google AdX vs AdMob vs AdSense: When to Use Each One

Google AdX vs AdMob vs AdSense: When to Use Each One

When it comes to publishers who want to earn money via ads on their website, Google offers three monetization solutions: Google Ad Exchange (AdX), AdMob, and AdSense. They all feature robust ad technology backed by Google’s network, and all three require publishers to abide by basic terms of use (i.e. garnering legitimate traffic through legal, family-friendly content that doesn’t manipulate users into clicking on ads).

However, all three serve a different purpose within the programmatic advertising ecosystem:

  • Google AdSense is an ad network that caters to small publishers and is known for performing well for websites with a high click-through-rate and in Tier 3 GEOs (although they also pay per impression, if desired).
  • Google AdX exists within Google Ad Manager, and is an ad exchange that provides premium ads for large publishers (smaller publishers can access AdX through a header bidding partner, like Snigel).
  • Google AdMob specializes in mobile ads and includes audience segmentation capabilities.

In this post, we’ll dive deeper into the specifics of each platform. We’ll also discuss how our header bidding solution at Snigel can complement or, in the case of Google AdX, provide access to these services. Finally, we’ll address a handful of frequently asked questions regarding AdX, AdSense, and AdMob.

Google AdSense

Google AdSense homepage: We value your content

What It Is

Ad networks like Google AdSense gather inventory from many publishers and bundle it together to offer to advertisers. All it takes is inserting a tag in the code of your website and they handle the rest (although you will have some control over things, such as ad placement).

Benefits of AdSense

AdSense offers several advantages for small publishers. Unlike AdX, it has low minimum traffic thresholds, meaning you only need a website with original content, legitimate traffic, and a Google account to get an AdSense account. Plus, it’s very easy to set up and manage.

In addition to being a good option for publishers who are just getting started, AdSense is one of the best options for websites with a high CTR and the majority of their traffic coming from Tier 3 GEOs.

Finally, AdSense offers both desktop and mobile ad formats, plus H5 game ads.

Use our AdSense revenue calculator to get an idea of how much ad revenue your website could or should be earning. You can also get in touch for a free assessment of whether you can earn more using AdSense’s CTR model or Snigel’s CPM model.

Disadvantages of AdSense

Because of the intermediary nature of ad networks, publishers have less control over what ads appear on their site, and unlike with AdX or header bidding partners, the only available ads are from the Google network, further limiting branding options. It also doesn’t have any reporting and analytics tools, making it harder for Google publishers to monitor AdSense ad performance.

Learn more: 12 Highest-Paying Adsense Alternatives

Using AdSense with Snigel

Google AdSense doesn’t have any non-compete clauses, so you can use it alongside Snigel to monetize your site. Most other ad monetization solutions make you switch to using their platform for everything, which means you won’t be able to use AdSense for ad units with a CTR.

Since Snigel and AdSense can be used simultaneously, you’ll have the opportunity to take advantage of both clicks and impressions, depending on which one will pay more for a given ad space so that you’re always earning the maximum revenue possible.

Plus, by working with AdSense and a GCPP like Snigel simultaneously, you can monetize traffic from Tier 1 and Tier 3 GEOs, which, again, generates even more revenue.

In this case study, the owner of SlidesMania uses both Snigel and AdSense to get the maximum revenue possible without having to manage the ad setup herself, which gives her more time to focus on her business.

Google Ad Exchange (AdX)

Google Ad Manager (AdX) homepage: A complete platform to grow ad revenue and protect your brand wherever people are engaging

What It Is

Google AdX is an ad exchange, which means that ad inventory is sold in programmatic advertising auctions between advertisers and publishers via real-time bidding (RTB). Publishers access ad exchanges via supply side platforms (SSPs) while advertisers access them via demand side platforms (DSPs).

Benefits of AdX

The direct transactions of an ad exchange give publishers greater control over what ads are featured on their sites than what’s possible with ad networks like AdSense.

Plus, Google’s reach means publishers get access to premium ads and a wider range of advertisers. In addition to typically paying more, premium quality ads may enhance the user experience. And having access to more advertisers means you’ll have an easier time finding ads that are relevant and attractive to your users.

The types of ads publishers get access to include video, native, and custom ad formats. There are also analytics and brand safety tools, plus central management and reporting.

Learn more: Google AdX vs AdSense: Which Is Best for Your Site?

Disadvantages of AdX

The biggest downside of Google AdX is how difficult it is to access, set up, and maintain. AdX exists within Google AdManager (GAM), the ad server formerly known as Doubleclick for Publishers (DFP), which is an ad management platform for large publishers.

GAM alone requires publishers to set up a dedicated network and API access to use it, along with setting up applications to manage inventory, create orders, and pull reports.

Even if you’re able to get and set up a Google Ad Manager account, publishers also need:

  • 5 million page views per month
  • Updated ads.txt file
  • Growing revenue from AdSense
  • Traffic from Tier 1 countries

And they’ve been known to reject applicants meeting these requirements without stating a reason.

Plus, in order to get the most out of GAM and AdX, you need an experienced team of ad experts to handle tasks such as setting floor prices daily, running A/B tests, ensuring you’re compliant with all user privacy laws, and more.

How Publishers Can Access Google AdX with a GCPP like Snigel

One option is using a header bidding partner that can give you access to AdX, like Snigel. Not only has Snigel maintained an AdX account for many years, but Snigel is also a Google Certified Publishing Partner. This means Snigel has an established track record of helping publishers get the most out of their ad inventory with AdX.

We do this by giving you access to:

  • Ad ops experts and ad tech developers who handle your entire ad strategy and setup for you
  • An AI-powered ad stack, which creates new opportunities for ad revenue (more on this later)
  • 40+ of the top SSPs and ad exchanges, which pushes AdX to pay more by creating more competition

Google AdMob

Google AdMob homepage: Earn more revenue with your apps.

What It Is

Like AdSense, AdMob is an ad network with no special sign-up requirements beyond Google policy; however, AdMob specializes in mobile advertising.

Benefits of AdMob

AdMob can be used on both iOS and Android, with the possibility of integrating Google Analytics. (However, you may need the expertise of mobile app developers to implement AdMob for some setups. You can learn more here.) AdMob also includes audience segmentation features to improve targeting, minimizing the impact of the restricted control over ads.

The mobile ad units they offer include rewarded ad, native ads, banner ads, interstitial ads, and ads for mobile game apps.

AdMob offers flexible monetization options; users can choose between RTB and waterfall mediation. In waterfall mediation, the user selects an average effective cost per mille (eCPM) they’re willing to accept for their inventory. Then the algorithm searches through ad sources one by one until it finds a match. This gives publishers more direct control over the price they’re willing to accept for ad inventory, but eCPMs are based on historical averages. This means that the algorithm is biased towards past high-performers, needlessly blocking access to up-and-comers. Using RTB allows relatively new or growing advertisers who have a lower eCPM to bid high, which can result in higher revenue overall.

AdMob can be employed alongside advertising platforms like AdX, AdSense, and Snigel.

Disadvantages of AdMob

Though AdMob offers a wider variety of ad formats than AdSense, ads are still restricted to Google demand, which means publishers still have fewer options over in-app ads compared to ad exchanges or header bidding solutions.

Also, using different platforms for mobile and desktop ads increases complexity and therefore the amount of time needed to manage your monetization solutions. Even if you want to use AdMob alongside Snigel, you still have to manage AdMob yourself. It’s usually simpler to let Snigel’s experts handle both desktop and mobile ads rather than maintaining an AdMob account. Plus, Snigel offers access to a range of high-quality advertisers rather than just the ones who are part of the Google network.

Earn More Revenue by Pairing Google Demand with Snigel

Snigel homepage: Unleash the Power of AI for Unmatched Monetization

While Snigel can be used to complement ad platforms like AdMob and AdSense and give access to AdX, it can also be used as a standalone header bidding solution that puts Google in competition with other demand sources. This drives up bids, and therefore, revenue.

Whether you choose to use Snigel on its own or in combination with AdSense and/or AdMob, you’ll have access to our advanced, AI-powered ad tech and be assigned a dedicated ad strategy expert.

In the following sections, we explain what header bidding is, how it helps publishers maximize revenue, and we cover the benefits of using Snigel with Google ad tech.

What Header Bidding Is

Header bidding is a service which allows publishers to run programmatic ad auctions across multiple ad exchanges and ad networks. The first advantage of header bidding is that it broadens the demand pool, driving up competition (and therefore, bids).

In addition, header bidding partners typically have access to premium ad exchanges and networks that most publishers wouldn’t be invited to. Finally, most header bidding partners also offer ad tech to better implement their services, and some also offer support with developing an ad strategy.

Optimize Your Ad Strategy with Dedicated Ad Experts

In order to create an ad monetization strategy, you need to answer questions like:

  • What number of ads can I display on my site without overwhelming users?
  • Which ad formats will garner the most user interactions?
  • Which ad verticals will appeal to that demographic the most?
  • How do I implement ads without compromising site health?
  • How should my ad set up be different for desktop vs mobile?
  • How should my ad set up be different for users in different GEOs?

These are just some of the questions website publishers must consider in the decision-heavy process of formulating and implementing an ad strategy. Although you may be able to come up with answers to some of these questions, it takes years of experience working with different websites, user demographics, ad formats, etc., to know the answers that will drive the most revenue without compromising the long-term health of your website.

That’s why every publisher (regardless of size) that works with Snigel is assigned an ad strategy expert with the experience and training to truly optimize your ad setup.

During the consultation stage, this expert will consult with you to determine your specific wants and needs to inform the ad strategy. Once they’ve developed a strategy you approve of, they’ll implement it, working with our ad tech experts to ensure your site is properly set up. In addition, they’ll continue to monitor and test your ad metrics (including A/B testing) so they can adapt your strategy as needed, maximizing your profits.

Access New Revenue Streams with Advanced Ad Tech

Snigel offers in-house ad tech that will enhance your revenue while preserving site health and the user experience, including:

  • Anti-bid shading. AI-powered dynamic floor pricing that changes the floor price every hour to thwart advertisers who attempt to artificially deflate their cost per mille (CPM) at publishers’ expense by predicting the lowest CPM they have to offer to win the bid (i.e., bid shading). Therefore, dynamic floor pricing increases both revenue and fill rates.
  • Ad formats. We offer interactive ad units that encourage user engagement, video ads through AdStream, adhesive ads that scroll when the user does, and display ads for both desktop and mobile (via in-app header bidding).
  • Smart Refresh. When users take actions like switching to another tab, Smart Refresh cycles in a fresh set of ads, letting you make the most out of your ad space.
  • Privacy law compliance. Our AdConsent platform ensures you comply with laws like the GDPR and CCPA.
  • Automated placement. Our AI will automate ad placements in long-form content when beneficial, selecting the position that will maximize revenue.

Snigel’s ad tech is able to support different set ups for different users in different countries and on different devices, enhancing your targeting and segmentation capabilities for digital advertising. All of this customization is handled by our ad tech experts, leaving publishers free to focus on their content.

Connect to Top Ad Exchanges

Snigel advertising partners: Transparent Ad Marketplace, AppNexus, Verizon Media, TripleLift, Rubicon Project, PubMatic, OpenX, Index Exchange, Amazon Publisher Services, Google Ad Manager 360

In addition to Google AdX, Snigel lets website owners access all the top supply-side platforms, or SSPs, such as Xandr, Amazon Publisher Services, and Rubicon. In addition to letting you access invite-only auctions and premium ads from a variety of verticals, this drives up competition and revenue.

Eligibility and Revenue Share

Rather than having traffic requirements, we typically work with clients whose current monetization efforts bring in $50/day, but we’re open to working with smaller sites with significant growth potential. We operate off a revenue share in which publishers receive 80% — that’s roughly 12% higher than AdSense’s typical benchmark of 68%.

Snigel’s clients see an average revenue increase of 57%. To learn how we can support you, get in touch today.


What are the key differences between Google AdX, AdSense, and AdMob?

Google AdX, formerly known as Doubleclick Ad Exchange, hosts programmatic advertising auctions to allow direct transactions between publishers and advertisers. Google AdSense is an ad network, meaning they aggregate ad space to sell to advertisers on behalf of publishers. Finally, AdMob is also an ad network, but it specializes in ads for mobile apps and browsers.

Does Google AdX, AdSense, or AdMob pay the most?

It’s difficult to say; while Google AdSense has a calculator that estimates publisher revenue, the lack of analytics reduces transparency. As for AdX and AdMob, their pay structures aren’t publicly available. More importantly, the amount of ad revenue publishers can expect depends on how each solution is implemented. Snigel can help you figure out which one is best for you.

Can I use Google AdX, AdSense, and AdMob together?

Yes, but it’s difficult for small and mid-sized publishers to access AdX, and it takes a full team and lots of time to manage all three effectively. Snigel lets you take advantage of AdX and handle mobile ads in one place rather than splitting your efforts across three platforms. Plus, you can still take advantage of AdSense while using Snigel.

Does Google AdX, AdSense, or AdMob support mobile ads?

All three support mobile ads, but AdMob specializes in in-app advertising, offering more mobile ad formats than Google AdSense. Snigel’s header bidding solution also supports mobile ads, and it can give you access to Google AdX (which is normally only accessible to large publishers).

About the Author

Ira is Snigel's Head Of Marketing. She supports our team and publishers by creating awesome guides on the latest adtech trends. Ira's background is in software development, communications, and media.


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