What’s The Difference Between AdMob & Adwords?

About one year ago, I wrote a post called What is AdMob & How Does it Work? One reader posed this question, in response to my post:

How Is AdMob different from a Google AdWords display campaign targeted at just mobile? Can’t I just have a mobile app install campaign using AdWords?

I realize now that my previous post was somewhat unclear about a key function of AdMob. While AdMob is Google’s advertising platform for promoting and monetizing mobile applications, it does not actually promote your app outwardly. It promotes your own in-app purchases (IAP) to your app users who, based on behavior signals, are most likely to become IAP conversions. For example, if you own a gaming app that allows users to purchase additional lives, AdMob can help you promote this feature of your game to users who are likely to take advantage.

As a monetizing platform, AdMob allows you to earn revenue for having other ads show within your app. You can choose the type of ad formats to allow, such as banner ads, full-page interstitials, video ads, and native ads. You can also filter out the ads you don’t want appearing within your app, helping to contribute to a more positive experience for your users.

By connecting AdMob to AdWords, this is how you can create mobile app install campaigns. There are currently two specific types of app install campaign you can run through AdWords – Universal App Campaigns, and Display Network App Install Campaigns.

Universal App Campaigns

Universal App Campaigns are designed specifically for Android apps. They are considered “universal” because your ads will run across Search, Display, and YouTube ad networks. These campaigns streamline the process, automatically optimizing your ads for installs.

Universal App Campaign Setup

Display Network App Install Campaigns

A Display Network App Install Campaign lets you promote your Android or Apple app across the Google Display Network. On the Display Network, your app install ads will show to people while they’re using other apps similar to yours.

Display Campaign Mobile App Setup

The default bid strategy is target cost-per-acquisition (CPA), and there are targeting options more specific to app promotion (app categories, mobile devices, active app spenders).

Display Campaign Mobile App Setup

Essentially, AdMob is the Google Display Network that mobile app install campaigns run on. App monetization is critical to the mobile app marketing ecosystem.


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Reader Interactions


  1. Mykola Nikolayev says

    Hello, Kasey.

    Please could you indicate where to find information how to integrate advertising into the desktop application? I would like to monetize a desktop application that way. But I can not find the information how to integrate AdMob in a desktop application.

    • says

      Hi Mykola,

      To my knowledge, Google AdMob only allows you to monetize mobile apps. AdSense does not allow you to enable ads in your desktop applications, either. I don’t know of any options that Google offers for desktop applications, specifically. However, depending on the type of desktop application you have, you may be able to connect it to Facebook’s Audience Network. You might also want to look into which ad networks allow their banner ads to display in desktop applications, as opposed to browser websites.

      If anyone else reading this happens to be able to better answer your question, I encourage them to comment!

      • Mykola Nikolayev says

        Kasey, thanks for the answer.
        Hopefully in the future, somebody tell me how I can monetize through advertising application.
        In the meantime, I’ll go and see what Facebook has to offer.
        Kasey, if suddenly there will be new information on this subject, please write.

        It would be great to discuss, i you don’t mind, which ad network can provide me with banners…

  2. James says

    Can I use AdWords on desktop (e.g., Windows and OS X) and mobile (e.g., Android and iOS) platforms? If so, is there anything special I need to do?

    • says

      Hi James,

      AdWords allows your to show on both desktop (browser) and mobile devices. Generally speaking, there isn’t anything special you need to do other than set bid adjustments if you want to control your visibility by device. It does not allow you to show in desktop applications.

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