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Differences between Ad Exchange and AdSense

Ad Exchange and AdSense are powerful tools to help you sell your ad inventory. Though they both provide access to millions of buyers, Ad Exchange is built for publishers that require granular controls to avoid undermining their direct sales efforts. If you don't have a significant direct sales business or if channel conflict is not a major concern for you, AdSense may be a better solution. 

To help clarify the differences between Ad Exchange and AdSense, we have compiled a list of the major features and how each product relates to those features.

Feature Ad Exchange AdSense
Anonymity Ability to make your inventory available as branded, semitransparent, anonymous or a combination of any two. No anonymous option.
Preferred Deals Deals interface allows you to set up Preferred Deals for fixed CPMs with buyers or Private Auctions with floor prices with multiple buyers. No possibility to set up Preferred Deals.
Filtering and blocking Account level filtering:
  • Google-Certified Ad Networks (GCAN) blocking
  • URL blocking
  • General category blocking (if available in your language)
  • Sensitive category blocking
  • Creative review: review and approve/disapprove ads from various advertisers 
  • Advertiser blocking
  • Ad technologies blocking
  • Cookie & data usage blocking
Blocking rule filtering:

​Opt-in rule filtering:

  • Opt in to sensitive categories
  • Ad technologies
Account level filtering:
  • GCAN blocking
  • URL blocking
  • General category blocking (if available in your language)
  • Sensitive category blocking
  • Creative review: review and approve/disapprove ads from various advertisers
Reporting Flexible reporting with the ability to create queries based on publisher-defined parameters or use a system query as a starting point. Standard reporting capabilities such as "Sites", "Ad Units", "Ad Sizes" etc.
Buyers/Advertisers Access to the same buyers and advertisers:
  • AdWords advertisers
  • Ad Exchange buyers (Google-Certified Ad Networks). If a buyer is using a non-GCAN vendor (not encouraged), only Ad Exchange publishers have access to this inventory.
Access to the same buyers and advertisers:
  • AdWords advertisers 
  • Ad Exchange buyers (Google-Certified Ad Networks). If a buyer is using a non-GCAN-vendor, AdSense publishers do not have access to this inventory.
Technology vendor permissions The Ad Exchange allows all vendors; publishers can block any vendor. Most vendors are allowed; publishers do not have the option to block a vendor.
Dynamic allocation Dynamic allocation in DFP/DFP Small Business. Dynamic allocation in DFP/DFP Small Business.
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