Google Ad Manager vs. AdSense: Which is Right for Your Website?

As a publisher, monetizing your website through advertising is crucial for maintaining and growing your online business. Google offers two popular platforms for managing ads, Google Ad Manager (GAM) and Google AdSense. Both provide different features, benefits, and drawbacks, making it essential to understand the differences between them to determine which platform best suits your needs. In this article, we’ll compare GAM and AdSense, discussing their respective features and how they cater to various publisher requirements, including the integration of multiple ad networks, direct sales support, and the history of GAM.

What is Google Ad Manager (GAM)?

Previously known as DART for publishers, Google purchased this platform in 2008 and renamed it DoubleClick for Publishers (DFP), before recently rebranding it as Google Ad Manager. GAM is a comprehensive ad management platform designed to help publishers manage and optimize their ad inventory, maximize revenue, and deliver a seamless experience to their users. It is one of the most popular ad servers, with about 90% share of the U.S. market for ad-serving software. Some of the key features of GAM include:

  • Support for various ad formats, including display, video, native, and more.
  • Advanced targeting options to reach the right audience.
  • Comprehensive reporting and forecasting tools.
  • Integration with multiple ad networks, including Google AdSense, Authorized Buyers, and other third-party networks.
  • Support for header bidding and third-party ad networks.
  • Customizable ad serving rules and priorities.

GAM is best for publishers who have significant direct sales, larger sales, or ad ops teams and require granular controls over inventory and delivery. A valid Google AdSense account is required to sign up for Ad Manager.

What is Google AdSense?

Google AdSense is a popular ad network that allows publishers to monetize their websites by displaying targeted text, image, video, and rich media ads. AdSense automatically matches ads to your site’s content and audience, ensuring relevant advertisements are shown to your users. Some key features of AdSense include:

  • Quick and easy setup process.
  • Automatic ad placement and optimization.
  • Contextual and personalized ad targeting.
  • Support for various ad formats, including display, text, and link units.
  • Detailed reporting and performance tracking.
  • Reliable payment system.

It’s important to note that you cannot publish direct sales ads with just Google AdSense. For direct sales, Google Ad Manager is required.

Comparing Google Ad Manager and AdSense

Now that we’ve covered the basics of both platforms, let’s dive into the key differences between GAM and AdSense:

a) User Base and Complexity:

AdSense is designed for publishers of all sizes, with a focus on simplicity and ease of use. It’s ideal for small to medium-sized publishers who want a straightforward solution to display ads on their website without requiring extensive customization or management.

GAM, on the other hand, is tailored towards larger publishers and those who require advanced ad management features. With its range of tools and customization options, GAM is suitable for publishers with a more complex ad inventory or those looking to maximize their ad revenue through strategic ad placements and targeting.

b) Ad Formats and Inventory:

While both GAM and AdSense support various ad formats, GAM offers a wider range of options, including native ads and more advanced targeting capabilities. Additionally, GAM allows publishers to manage both direct-sold and programmatic ads, whereas AdSense focuses solely on programmatic advertising.

c) Monetization and Revenue:

GAM provides publishers with more control over their ad inventory and pricing, enabling them to set up custom ad rules, floor prices, and ad serving priorities. This allows for the optimization of ad revenue and ensures that the most valuable ads are displayed first.

AdSense, while simpler to use, offers less control over ad inventory and pricing. However, its automatic ad placement and optimization features make it an excellent option for publishers who want a hands-off approach to monetization.

d) Integration and Third-Party Support:

GAM supports integration with various third-party ad networks, allowing publishers to manage their entire ad inventory from a single platform. This feature, along with its support for direct sales, sets GAM apart from AdSense, which does not offer integration with other ad networks or direct sales support.

Extending Google Ad Manager Functionality with Custom Creative Templates

One of the advantages of using Google Ad Manager is the ability to extend its functionality through custom creative templates. These templates allow publishers to display a wide variety of ad formats, including rich media formats, to enhance their ad inventory and user experience. For example, offers more than 18 custom creative templates that can be used with Google Ad Manager, such as interscrollers, catfisher ads, expanding ads, interstitials, popups, rotating 3D cubes, and many more. By utilizing these custom creative templates, publishers can make their ad offerings more engaging, interactive, and effective in capturing user attention and driving revenue.

Incorporating these custom creative templates with Google Ad Manager can give publishers an edge in the competitive digital advertising landscape. Ad formats that are unique and visually appealing can lead to higher user engagement, click-through rates, and ultimately, increased ad revenue. With a diverse range of ad formats available through custom creative templates, publishers can create a more dynamic and immersive advertising experience for their users, tailored to their website’s content and audience.


When choosing between Google Ad Manager and AdSense, it’s essential to consider the size of your website, the complexity of your ad inventory, and the level of control you desire over monetization. Google Ad Manager offers advanced features, greater customization, and support for direct sales, making it suitable for larger publishers or those with complex ad inventory. On the other hand, Google AdSense provides a simpler, more streamlined solution for small to medium-sized publishers seeking a hands-off approach to monetization through programmatic advertising. By understanding the unique features and benefits of each platform, you can make an informed decision on which best suits your website’s needs.