AdX vs AdSense – Which Will Make You More Money
Google AdSense is a plug-and-play solution for publishers to quickly make money off of web and mobile assets. It’s also a great way to monetize a niche blog, for example. But as your traffic quality and reputation improve, you may be invited to join the big boys club – Google DoubleClick Ad Exchange. Also known as AdX in short.
The question you are probably asking yourself is this: Which will bring me more revenues? Some sources claim publishers have seen a 30% percent increase in overall ad revenues with AdX instead of AdSense.
But before you rush to fill in the fields of a Google signup form, we’ve done the heavy lifting for you and checked and studied the issue.
So, what’s the answer to this big life altering question? The answer, as it often is, is: it’s different for every publisher.
Not what you were hoping to hear? Sorry. If you’re a faithful reader of this blog then you know by now...no quick wins.
But which ad inventory sales option is right for me you ask?
Ok. Fine. Read on and we’ll figure it out together.
Key Differences Between AdSense and AdX
If you’re a little lost as to the difference between Google AdSense and AdX, don’t worry. You’re not alone. Google lists the differences between the two in a comparison table, but as Google tends to do frequently, they leave it open for interpretation.
In a nutshell, AdSense is an automatic vehicle and AdX is your stick shift manual option. One will get you from point A to point B, while the other offers more control for better overall yield.
Who Sets The Price and Pays
With AdSense, Google basically buys all the inventory offered to it by publishers, pricing it according to the bids set by advertisers for each ad, campaign and keyword.
But your RPM will depend almost entirely on Google’s contextual ad serving algorithm and retargeting ads. No matter how hard you optimize your AdSense metrics, you won’t be able to set a floor price for ads served on your site.
On the other hand, Google DoubleClick Ad Exchange is a programmatic RTB exchange with many players, including brands, agencies, arbitrage buyers and sellers, as well as different advertising networks (including AdSense!).
You get more demand sources for your inventory and can control who gets to bid on it.
With AdX you set the floor prices for your inventory and buyers compete in a lively auction on who gets to display that ad on your page. If you’re getting dollar eyes like a cartoon character now, we’re not surprised.
At first, this may seem like a golden opportunity to increase your revenue fast, but it’s not as simple as that. If your floor prices are too high and your inventory is not as attractive as that of your competitors - you might end up with lower earnings than you would have had by using AdSense alone.
Who Needs What and When
According to Google, the main difference between the two monetization tools is the target audience. While AdSense is a kind of one-stop-shop for ad-based web content monetization, AdX is aimed at publishers who also sell inventory directly, as well as established brands and eCommerce sites with a lot of quality traffic.
As you may have realized by this point, AdX requires a lot more maintenance and time investment than AdSense in order to be really profitable.
Yes, it’s pretty complicated and takes time and expertise to be effective. So if you’re currently making a few hundreds of dollars or even a few thousand every month with AdSense, switching over to AdX might not be cost effective for you. Yet.
Ad Units - More or Less?
One of the main differences everyone seems to talk about is the number of ad units in each of the monetization tools offered by Google to publishers. In short, AdSense permits up to three ad units per page, while AdX allows up to five ad slots. In theory, you can boost RPMs significantly by increasing the number of ads on each page. But that’s theory.
The limit for AdSense ads per page remains the same even if you use AdX. What this means is that if you use the maximum 5 ad units per page (on desktop), but only 3 can be filled by AdSense. The rest will have to come from other buyers in the exchange and guaranteed or preferred advertisers.
Google is pretty straightforward about how much it’s making off every click on AdSense. Publishers (that’s us) get 68 percent of what the advertisers pay for every click with display ads. And just 51 percent with AdSense for search. With AdX there is some flexibility available if you have the power (and traffic) to haggle with Google.
You can offer your well performing ad placements and units for a premium, and sell the remnant inventory through AdX and other ad exchanges. That way you can attract new advertisers to your online property, and upsell premium placement to advertisers who’ve bid on your remnant inventory and got good results.
DoubleClick for Publishers (DFP)
If you’ve been researching AdX, you’ve probably come across Google’s ad server for publishers - DoubleClick for publishers. With DFP, you can let AdX compete against other ad networks, and divide the traffic between demand sources in the most profitable way for you. It’s a management platform for publishers with multiple demand sources for ad space, and if you are one or trying to become one - you should familiarize yourself with DFP.
There are quite a few advantages to AdX over AdSense, but your potential to increase revenue by moving to AdX depends mostly on your needs, size and technical expertise. Is your site right for AdX or is AdSense the best Google can offer you for web traffic monetization? The best way to find out is try. If you have the skills or people to do it, of course.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
I'm Head of Marketing Operations at AdNgin. Before coming to AdNgin, I was a marketing professional focused on SAAS business models. When I'm not working, which is rare, I sail and hang out with my son, Jonathan, and wife, Meital.