PPCKnow Your Platforms: AdWords vs. AdWords Express

Know Your Platforms: AdWords vs. AdWords Express

What are the key differences between AdWords and AdWords Express? Which platform is best suited for the needs and goals of your business?

Almost every business knows that they need advertising to succeed. Smart businesses know that in order to reach consumers these days, many of them need online advertising. However, so many companies don’t know where to start. Where should I run ads? How much time does it take? How much money should I spend? The questions are endless.

To help answer some of these questions, I’d like to walk you through the key differences between AdWords and AdWords Express. By understanding these simple differences, you can choose which platform best suits the needs and goals of your business. At a high-level view, it all comes down to time, resources, and ad formats.

Time and Resources

AdWords: If you’ve got the time to manage online campaigns – ideally an extra five to 15 hours per week minimum – then AdWords might be for you. AdWords gives you the ability to show up on Google.com, the Google Display Network, and Google Maps. Depending on how you build your campaigns, and how active of a manager you are, will dictate how much time you’ll need to spend on campaign management and optimization. However, expect to create an evolving campaign structure, choose keywords, set bids, write text ads or create display ads, and optimize on your own. If this sounds like a bit too much work for you, but you’re willing to invest in resources, consider hiring an in-house marketing manager or a Google Certified Agency to help manage your campaigns.

AdWords Express: If time is of the essence, and you need your campaigns up and running quickly with limited resources, AdWords Express might be your best bet. Don’t just think about short term, though. If over the long term, you don’t think you’ll have time to manage online campaigns successfully and you don’t anticipate hiring a consultant or agency, AdWords Express is for you. This option is ideal for small and medium-sized business owners who wear many hats – and working on their businesses’ advertising is an additional role that’s taking up time. With AdWords Express, you can set a budget and based on your type of business, Google will come up with a list of keywords to trigger ads to your site or Google+ page. Minimal ongoing management and maintenance is also provided by Google. To quickly see the success of your AdWords Express account, consider downloading the AdWords Express app for Android or iOS.

Ad Formats

AdWords: If you are looking for robust online advertising – inclusive of text, animated and/or static banners, and engaging video formats – AdWords is the best place to be. This platform is ideal for businesses that have their own website, and campaigns with a lot of moving parts – i.e., multiple landing pages, a variety of creative ad formats, etc. Also, if you plan to A/B test anything – creative, text ads, or landing pages – AdWords is the way to go.

AdWords Express: If you’re comfortable with only having text ads on Google.com and Google Maps, then consider AdWords Express. Although the platform doesn’t contain advanced ad formats, you will still be able to write your own ads which will show next to, above, or below the search results as a “Sponsored Link.” To run on AdWords Express, you don’t even need a website, as you can direct all of your ads to your Google+ page for more information on your business. If you do have a website, though, you can direct ads there as well.

Other Differences


Image credit: Google.

Both platforms are fairly similar in their model. As an advertiser, you pay only for clicks and have the ability to target ads geographically. Also, falling in line with Google’s stance on the importance of cross-device marketing, both platforms allow for targeting on mobile devices.

If you have any questions about whether to use AdWords or AdWords Express, feel free to comment below or contact the AdWords Express team via phone or email. Also, to find out more about companies having success with AdWords Express vs. AdWords, check out these case studies.


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