Understanding the Differences: Google Ads vs Google AdWords

Understanding the Differences Google Ads vs Google AdWords

Deciphering the nuances between Google Ads and Google AdWords can seem like a challenging task for many online marketers. Did you know these are not two different platforms, but rather a rebranding by Google to encompass more advertising options? This blog post is designed to demystify the seeming complexities, providing clarity on everything from how each platform works, their cost structures, and even your strategic considerations before launching an ad campaign.

Stick with us; your mastery of Google’s advertising networks is just a few scrolls away.

Key Takeaways

  • Google AdWords was rebranded as Google Ads in 2018 to reflect its expanded advertising capabilities, including text, image, video, and app ads.
  • While both platforms offer similar features such as detailed performance metrics and a bidding system, Google Ads provides more control over ad placements and targeting options.
  • Google Ads offers a broader range of targeting options, ad formats, and placements compared to the more text-based focus of AdWords.
  • By understanding the differences between Google Ads and Google AdWords, advertisers can utilize each platform effectively for their online marketing needs.

Google AdWords vs Google Ads: What You Need to Know

Google AdWords and Google Ads are two terms that may seem interchangeable, but there are important differences to understand.

Understanding the name change

Google’s decision to switch from ‘AdWords’ to ‘Google Ads’ marked an era of enhanced advertising opportunities. The name change, implemented in 2018, was designed not merely as a mere cosmetic update; it reflected Google’s broader efforts to accommodate diverse advertising needs beyond just words – images, video content and interactive formats.

This evolution mirrors the multifaceted means modern business employs for successful online presence and effective customer engagement.

Key similarities and differences

Google Ads and Google AdWords share some similarities but also have distinctions that make them unique. It is crucial to understand these to effectively utilize each platform for your online marketing needs.

Similarities Differences
Both Google Ads and Google AdWords are advertising platforms provided by Google. Google recently rebranded AdWords as Google Ads, reflecting its expanded advertising capabilities.
Both platforms are designed to attract advertisers, enabling them to place ads within Google’s advertising network. Google Ads offers a variety of ad formats such as text, image, video, and app ads, whereas AdWords was more focused on text-based search ads.
Both provide detailed performance metrics to help advertisers optimize their campaigns. Advertisers using Google Ads have more control over their ad placements and targeting options, enhancing their ability to reach specific audiences.
Both platforms operate on a bidding system, allowing advertisers to compete for ad space. Google Ads provides conversion tracking based on both clicks and impressions, while AdWords does not provide conversion path data.
Both can be used in conjunction with Google AdSense, which allows publishers to monetize their websites by displaying ads. Google Ads has a broader range of targeting options, allowing for more efficient ad targeting and higher ad relevance.

How Google Ads Works

Google Ads is an advertising platform that allows advertisers to create and manage their ad campaigns, with options for targeting, ad formats, and placements.

Overview of Google Ads platform

The Google Ads platform is a powerful online advertising tool that allows businesses to reach their target audience effectively. It offers a wide range of ad formats, including text, image, video, and app ads, which can be customized to suit specific marketing goals.

With Google Ads, advertisers have complete control over their campaigns, from setting up targeting options based on demographics and keywords to choosing where their ads appear across the vast network of websites partnered with Google.

The platform provides detailed performance metrics and conversion tracking tools, allowing advertisers to measure the success of their campaigns accurately. Furthermore, Google Ads offers various bidding strategies and budgeting options for optimal cost management.

Setting up a campaign

To set up a campaign using Google Ads, follow these steps:

  1. Sign in to your Google Ads account.
  2. Click on the “Campaigns” tab in the main navigation menu.
  3. Click on the blue “+” button to create a new campaign.
  4. Select your campaign goal, such as driving website traffic, generating leads, or increasing sales.
  5. Choose your campaign type based on your objective, such as search network, display network, shopping ads, or video ads.
  6. Name your campaign and select your preferred campaign settings.
  7. Set your daily budget and choose how you want to allocate it between clicks and conversions.
  8. Define your target audience by specifying location, language, demographics, and other relevant targeting options.
  9. Select specific keywords or placements to target with your ads.
  10. Create compelling ad copy that aligns with your campaign goals and resonates with your target audience.
  11. Choose where you want your ads to appear by selecting specific websites or categories within the Google Network.
  12. Set up bidding strategy and adjust settings to maximize your ad visibility within your budget constraints.
  13. Review and finalize all campaign settings before launching it.

Targeting options

Google Ads offers a variety of targeting options to help advertisers reach their desired audience effectively. These targeting options include:

  1. Keyword Targeting: Advertisers can select specific keywords related to their products or services, and their ads will be shown when users search for those keywords on Google.
  2. Location Targeting: Advertisers can choose to show their ads only to people in specific locations, such as countries, regions, cities, or even within a certain distance from their business location.
  3. Demographic Targeting: Advertisers can target specific demographic groups based on factors like age, gender, parental status, and household income.
  4. Device Targeting: Advertisers can choose to show their ads on specific devices like desktop computers, mobile devices, or tablets.
  5. Time Targeting: Advertisers can schedule when their ads are shown by selecting specific days of the week and times of day.
  6. Audience Targeting: Advertisers can target specific audiences based on their interests, behaviors, or demographics using data from Google’s vast network.
  7. Remarketing: Advertisers can target users who have previously visited their website or interacted with their brand in some way.
  8. Placement Targeting: Advertisers can choose specific websites or apps where they want their ads to be displayed.

Ad formats and placements

Google Ads offers a variety of ad formats and placements to help advertisers effectively reach their target audience. Here are the different options available:

  1. Text ads: These are the most common type of ad format in Google Ads. They appear as text-only ads, usually with a headline, description, and URL. Text ads are displayed in search results and on websites within the Google Search Network.
  2. Image ads: These ads include graphics or images in addition to text. They can be static images or animated banners, and they can be displayed on websites within the Google Display Network.
  3. Video ads: Video ads allow advertisers to showcase their products or services through engaging visual content. These ads can be shown before, during, or after YouTube videos or on other websites within the Google Display Network that display video content.
  4. App ads: Designed specifically for promoting mobile apps, these ads drive users to download or engage with an app directly from their mobile devices. App ads can be shown within other apps or on websites within the Google Display Network.
  5. Responsive ads: With responsive ads, advertisers provide multiple headlines, descriptions, and images, and Google automatically generates different combinations that are suited for different placements and audiences across the Google Display Network.
  6. Call-only ads: These ad formats prioritize phone calls over website visits by displaying a clickable phone number on mobile devices instead of a URL.
  7. Dynamic search ads: Using dynamic search ads allows advertisers to automatically generate headlines and landing pages based on the content of their website pages. This format is especially useful for large e-commerce sites with frequently changing inventory.
  8. Shopping ads: Also known as product listing ads (PLAs), these format types display product information including images, prices, and store names directly in search results when users search for specific products.

Purpose and Strategy

Discover the purpose and strategic considerations behind using Google Ads, and learn how to effectively set goals, budget, and bid for maximum success. Ready to take your digital marketing game to the next level? Read on!

Purpose of Google Ads

The purpose of Google Ads is to help businesses effectively reach their target audience and drive relevant traffic to their websites or landing pages. With Google Ads, advertisers can create and manage various types of online ad campaigns, including search ads, display ads, video ads, and app ads.

The platform offers a range of targeting options that enable advertisers to reach specific demographics, geographic locations, interests, and even remarket to users who have previously interacted with their website.

By using Google Ads, businesses can increase brand visibility, generate leads or sales conversions, and maximize their return on investment (ROI) through cost-effective advertising strategies.

Strategic considerations for using Google Ads

To develop an effective strategy for using Google Ads, it is important to consider several key factors. Firstly, define your goals and objectives clearly before launching any campaigns.

Whether you aim to generate leads, increase sales, or raise brand awareness, having a clear direction will drive your decision-making process throughout the campaign. Secondly, establish a budget that aligns with your advertising goals and ensures long-term sustainability.

By setting realistic expectations for expenditure and return on investment (ROI), you can optimize your resources effectively.

Furthermore, carefully select target keywords and demographics during campaign setup to reach your desired audience efficiently. This involves conducting thorough keyword research to identify relevant terms that potential customers are likely to search for.

Additionally, tailor ad messaging and creatives according to these keywords to enhance relevance and maximize click-through rates.

Consider monitoring and optimizing the performance of your ads regularly by leveraging the robust reporting capabilities of Google Ads. This allows you to observe which keywords convert well, which ad formats have higher engagement rates, and how different targeting options affect performance metrics such as click-through rates (CTRs) or cost-per-click (CPC).

Additionally, use conversion tracking tools provided by Google Ads in order to evaluate the effectiveness of each campaign in driving desired actions on your website.

Goals and objectives

Setting clear goals and objectives is crucial when using Google Ads or AdWords. Whether you’re an advertiser promoting your products or services, or a publisher looking to monetize your website through ads, having defined goals will help drive your strategy and measure success.

Your goals may include increasing brand awareness, driving website traffic, generating leads, or boosting sales. By identifying these objectives upfront, you can align your ad campaigns with specific metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs) that will guide your decision-making process and ensure optimal results.

With Google Ads’ detailed performance metrics and conversion tracking capabilities, you’ll be able to monitor the progress towards your goals and make data-driven optimizations along the way for maximum effectiveness in achieving them.

Budgeting and bidding strategies

Budgeting and bidding strategies are crucial elements of a successful Google Ads campaign. Here are some important considerations:

  • Start with a clear budget in mind to ensure you don’t overspend on your advertising efforts.
  • Determine your daily or monthly budget based on your overall marketing goals and objectives.
  • Allocate your budget across different campaigns or ad groups based on their importance and performance.
  • Monitor the performance of your ads regularly and adjust your budget accordingly to maximize results.
  • When it comes to bidding, consider using automated bidding strategies offered by Google Ads to optimize your campaign’s performance.
  • Test different bidding strategies, such as Target CPA (Cost Per Acquisition) or Target ROAS (Return On Ad Spend), to find the one that aligns best with your goals.
  • Keep an eye on competitive bidding by monitoring auction insights and adjusting your bids accordingly.
  • Use ad scheduling to control when your ads appear, focusing on peak times for maximum exposure and conversion potential.
  • Take advantage of bid modifiers to adjust bids based on factors like device type, location, or time of day for more targeted optimization.
  • Regularly analyze the performance metrics, such as cost per click (CPC) or conversion rate, to refine your bidding strategy.

Cost Structure

Google Ads offers various cost factors and pricing models, including pay-per-click (PPC) and cost-per-thousand-impressions (CPM), allowing advertisers to calculate their return on investment (ROI).

Cost factors in Google Ads

Google Ads offers advertisers a variety of cost factors to consider when running their campaigns. These factors play a crucial role in determining the overall advertising costs and return on investment. Here are some key cost factors in Google Ads:

  1. Bid amounts: Advertisers can set bid amounts for their keywords, which determine how much they are willing to pay for each click on their ads. Higher bids typically result in more competitive ad placements but also increase the cost per click.
  2. Quality score: Google assigns a quality score to each keyword, based on factors such as ad relevance, landing page experience, and expected click-through rate. A higher quality score can lead to lower costs per click and better ad rankings.
  3. Ad rank: Ad rank is determined by multiplying the bid amount by the quality score. The higher the ad rank, the better the ad position in search results.
  4. Click-through rate (CTR): CTR is calculated by dividing the number of clicks an ad receives by its number of impressions. A higher CTR indicates that an ad is performing well and can lead to lower costs per click.
  5. Ad extensions: Google Ads provides various ad extensions like sitelink extensions, call extensions, and location extensions that enhance ads with additional information or functionalities. Using ad extensions can improve ad performance but may also impact costs.
  6. Competition: The level of competition for keywords within your industry can influence bidding prices and overall campaign costs. Highly competitive industries often have higher CPCs (cost per click).
  7. Targeting options: Google Ads allows advertisers to target specific locations, languages, devices, demographics, and interests. Targeting a broader audience may drive more clicks but could also result in higher advertising costs.
  8. Ad scheduling: Advertisers can choose when their ads appear based on specific times or days of the week. Adjusting ad scheduling settings can help optimize campaign budget allocation and potentially reduce costs during off-peak periods.
  9. Ad position preferences: Advertisers have the option to set ad position preferences, specifying whether they prefer higher ad positions or lower costs. This can impact the bidding strategy and overall cost per click.
  10. Daily budget: Google Ads allows advertisers to set a maximum daily budget, ensuring that total campaign costs stay within their specified limits. Once the daily budget is exhausted, ads may stop showing for the rest of the day.

Pay-per-click (PPC) vs. cost-per-thousand-impressions (CPM)

There are two common pricing models used in online advertising: pay-per-click (PPC) and cost-per-thousand-impressions (CPM). With PPC, advertisers only pay when someone clicks on their ad. This model allows advertisers to have more control over their budget since they are only paying for actual engagement with the ad. On the other hand, CPM charges advertisers based on the number of impressions their ad receives, regardless of whether or not anyone clicks on it. This model is beneficial for brand awareness campaigns where exposure is key. By understanding these different pricing models, advertisers can choose the one that aligns best with their goals and budget to maximize their return on investment (ROI).

Calculating return on investment (ROI)

Calculating return on investment (ROI) is a crucial aspect of any advertising campaign, including Google Ads. ROI measures the effectiveness and profitability of your ad spend by comparing the revenue generated from your ads to the cost of running those ads.

To calculate ROI, subtract the cost of your ad campaign from the revenue generated and divide that number by the cost. Multiply the result by 100 to get a percentage value representing your ROI.

For example, if you spent $500 on ads and made $1,000 in revenue, your ROI would be 100%. Analyzing ROI can help you determine if your Google Ads campaigns are generating a positive return or if adjustments need to be made to improve performance and optimize your results.

Conversion Tracking and Analytics

Learn how to track conversions and measure the success of your Google Ads campaigns with detailed analytics and reporting. Discover the differences between Google Ads and Google Analytics tracking, including attribution models and frequently asked questions about conversion tracking.

Importance of tracking conversions

Tracking conversions is a crucial aspect of any successful online advertising campaign. It allows advertisers to measure the effectiveness of their ads and understand which actions customers take after interacting with an ad.

By tracking conversions, businesses can gain valuable insights into the return on investment (ROI) and make informed decisions about budget allocation and optimization strategies.

Not only does tracking conversions help determine the success of specific ads, but it also provides valuable data for future campaigns. With accurate conversion tracking, advertisers can identify trends, target high-performing keywords or placements, and refine their overall marketing strategy.

Furthermore, by understanding the customer’s journey from seeing an ad to completing a desired action such as making a purchase or submitting a form, advertisers can optimize their campaigns accordingly.

Conversion tracking enables them to focus on driving valuable actions rather than just clicks or impressions.

Differences between Google Ads and Google Analytics tracking

Google Ads and Google Analytics are two powerful tools provided by Google, but they have distinct differences in terms of tracking. While both platforms offer tracking capabilities, Google Ads focuses on measuring the performance of ad campaigns and conversions, while Google Analytics provides more comprehensive website analytics.

In Google Ads, advertisers can track various metrics related to their ads such as impressions, clicks, click-through rates (CTRs), and conversions directly within the platform. This allows them to gauge the effectiveness of their campaigns and optimize them for better results. On the other hand, Google Analytics offers a deeper understanding of user behavior on websites including pageviews, bounce rates, session durations, and more.

One major difference between the two is that Google Ads tracks conversions based on clicks or impressions from its own advertising network. In contrast, Google Analytics takes into account all traffic sources to a website and provides insights into how users interact with different marketing channels beyond paid ads.

Additionally, there may be discrepancies in reporting between the two platforms due to differences in attribution models used for tracking conversions. Advertisers should take this into consideration when analyzing data from both tools.

By understanding these differences between Google Ads and Google Analytics tracking capabilities, advertisers can make informed decisions about their online marketing strategies and improve overall campaign performance.

Attribution models and reporting discrepancies

Attribution models play a crucial role in determining how credit is assigned to different touchpoints along the customer journey. Google Ads offers several attribution models, including last-click, first-click, linear, time decay, and position-based.

Each model has its own way of assigning value to each interaction before a conversion takes place. This helps advertisers understand which ads or keywords were most influential in driving conversions.

However, it’s important to note that there can be reporting discrepancies when comparing data from Google Ads with other analytics platforms like Google Analytics. This is because the two platforms use different tracking methods and attribution models.

While Google Ads focuses on click interactions, where a user clicks on an ad before converting, Google Analytics tracks all interactions leading up to a conversion.

Due to these differences in tracking methods and attribution models, it’s not uncommon for advertisers to see variations in performance metrics such as impressions, clicks, and conversions between the two platforms.

It’s essential for advertisers to consider these discrepancies when analyzing data from both sources and make informed decisions based on their specific business goals and objectives.

Frequently asked questions about conversion tracking

Conversion tracking is an essential aspect of running successful Google Ads campaigns. If you have questions about conversion tracking, here are some commonly asked ones:

  1. How does conversion tracking work in Google Ads?
  • Conversion tracking in Google Ads works by placing a snippet of code on your website that tracks when specific actions, such as purchases or form submissions, occur.
  1. What types of conversions can I track with Google Ads?
  • With Google Ads, you can track various types of conversions, including sales, leads, sign – ups, downloads, and more. You can customize the conversion actions based on your specific goals.
  1. Can I track offline conversions with Google Ads?
  • Yes, you can track offline conversions by importing data into Google Ads. This allows you to attribute conversions that happen offline but are influenced by online ads.
  1. How do I set up conversion tracking in Google Ads?
  • Setting up conversion tracking involves creating conversion actions within your Google Ads account and adding the corresponding code snippet to your website or app.
  1. Can I track multiple conversions from the same campaign or ad group?
  • Yes, you can track multiple conversions from the same campaign or ad group. This allows you to measure the effectiveness of different actions taken by users who interact with your ads.
  1. Can I exclude certain interactions from being counted as conversions?
  • Yes, you can set up exclusion rules to filter out certain interactions that you don’t want to count as conversions. This helps ensure that only relevant actions are tracked.
  1. How long does it take for conversion data to appear in Google Ads?
  • Conversion data usually appears in your Google Ads account shortly after an action occurs on your website or app. However, there may be a slight delay depending on various factors.
  1. Can I import goals from other analytics platforms into Google Ads?
  • Yes, if you’re using other analytics platforms like Google Analytics, you can import goals into Google Ads to track them as conversions within your ad campaigns.
  1. How can I measure the value of my conversions in Google Ads?
  • In Google Ads, you can assign a value to each conversion action, allowing you to calculate the total value generated from your ads and determine the return on investment (ROI).
  1. What attribution models are available for conversion tracking in Google Ads?
  • Google Ads provides several attribution models, such as last click, first click, linear, time decay, and position-based. Each model assigns credit to different touchpoints in the customer journey.


In conclusion, understanding the differences between Google Ads and Google AdWords is crucial for any advertiser or publisher looking to maximize their online advertising efforts. While both platforms offer unique features and targeting options, it’s essential to recognize that Google Ads now encompasses the functionalities of AdWords and has expanded its capabilities to provide a more comprehensive advertising experience.

By leveraging these platforms effectively and strategically, businesses can reach their target audience with precision and drive significant results in their digital marketing campaigns.


1. What is the difference between Google Ads and Google AdWords?

Google Ads is the current name for the advertising platform from Google, which encompasses various ad formats and placements across its network of websites and apps. On the other hand, Google AdWords was an older name for a specific service within Google Ads that focused on keyword-based text ads displayed on search results pages.

2. Can I still use Google AdWords or do I have to switch to Google Ads?

Google transitioned from using the term “AdWords” to “Ads” in 2018, so all new advertisers are now onboarded onto the Google Ads platform. However, if you were already using AdWords before this change, you can continue to access your existing campaigns through your AdWords account.

3. Are there any differences in terms of functionality between Google Ads and Google AdWords?

While the basic functionality remains similar, there have been updates and improvements made to the advertising platform over time. The transition from AdWords to Ads also brought about changes in terminology used within the interface and introduced additional features such as Smart Campaigns designed for small businesses with simplified ad creation processes.

4. Which one should I choose: Google Ads or Google AdWords?

If you’re starting fresh with online advertising or if you haven’t used either platform before, it’s recommended to go with Google Ads since that is their current offering. However, if you’ve been using AdWords previously and are comfortable with it, you can continue utilizing it as long as it meets your needs without requiring migration to a new system like Smart Campaigns under ‘Ads.’ Ultimately, your choice would depend on your specific goals and preferences when it comes to managing online advertising campaigns on these platforms

Similar Posts