adwords vs adwords express cover pic

Google AdWords vs Google AdWords Express

Sam Carr

Sam Carr

January 23rd, 2020

Sam Carr is a content marketer at PPC Protect with 10 years of digital marketing experience. With a keen interest in ad fraud, Sam shares all his insights on the PPC Protect blog.

google invalid clicks report

If you’ve been in the PPC industry for a while, then the chances are you will have stumbled across AdWords Express at some point. Not to be confused with the regular Google AdWords, AdWords Express has some significant differences.

Both versions are owned by the same company, and both use the same AdWords network but which is better and why?

If you’re trying to decide between the two, then Google AdWords is vastly superior. If you need a bit more than that to convince you why then just read on.

Campaign Management

The first and major difference between the two different AdWords versions is the way in which the campaigns are managed. The regular Google AdWords allows you to continually update your campaign while it is active, allowing you to do things such as optimise your amount per click and change keywords.

If you want the most control over your AdWords campaign then this is the way to go. If you’re new and not very experienced to AdWords then this might be hard and confusing at first, however with a little reading and practise you’ll get the hang of it.

AdWords Express, on the other hand, has an entirely different management approach. In fact, the whole management for the campaign is entirely automated. This means as soon as you launch your campaign Google’s robots will take control and start optimising your adverts. This is a bad thing.


By not having control of your campaign you are basically relying on Google doing the right thing. Most likely Google will be optimising your adverts for the most views and clicks and not the most conversions.

At the end of the day if your adverts are getting clicks but not conversions then they are basically worthless. This is the first problem with AdWords Express.

Ads Formats

adwords ads formats

Although both versions of AdWords use the same Google advertising network, they each have completely different ad formats. Google AdWords allows you to use animated or static banners, engaging video adverts and expanded text adverts on Google own websites and their partner websites.

This is ideal for complex A/B testing of different banners and adverts to see which one performs the best.

AdWords Express, on the other hand, is limited to just text adverts on Google’s websites which not only reduces the number of views but makes people less likely to click them. After all, would you rather click a fancy flashing animated banner or a few lines of text? AdWords Express also doesn’t allow you to use the new advanced ad formats such as video adverts on Google’s YouTube.

If you’re planning on having a complex and media-rich advertising campaign then Google AdWords is the only choice for you.

Why Google AdWords is Better Than Express

If those reasons above didn’t convince you why Google AdWords is better, then this section will.

Google AdWords Express

google adwords express logo

Ideal for first-time users and people who don’t have a lot of time on their hands, AdWords Express aims to save you time by automatically managing your campaigns. To setup your campaign you’ll write the ad and Google will display it on their website or Google maps. Ongoing maintenance with AdWords Express is minimal and you only pay for the clicks that you receive.

The benefits of AdWords Express include:

  • Pay only when someone clicks on your ad
  • Minimal management and maintenance of ads
  • Advertise on Google maps
  • Reach customers in any geographic location you choose

Google AdWords

Unlike AdWords Express, Google AdWords gives you full control over your ad campaigns. With the ability to manage keywords, locations and ad formats, AdWords gives you the ultimate customisability.

To set up your campaign you simply create a new advert and decide which of the Google ad networks you want it to be displayed on. You can then set a daily budget, how much to spend on each click and where your ads will appear. If you want to take your campaign even further then you can try different formats such as video ads and shopping ads.

The benefits of Google AdWords include:

  • Pay only when someone clicks on your ad
  • You choose your own keywords, set prices, and structure your account
  • Reach customers in any location
  • Advertising with special ad formats and detailed reporting
adwords comparison table

To summarise the two different versions of AdWords here is a helpful comparison table.

As you can see both AdWords are very similar but the main differences are the automated management feature and advanced ad format. AdWords Express takes control of the management for you which might seem like a useful feature, but you will never get the ROI of normal AdWords management.

AdWords Express also lacks advanced ad formats such as video and shopping ads which reduce your overall customer audience.

Now you know the difference between AdWords and AdWords express, learn the differences between Google Ads and AdSense.

No matter which AdWords version you choose, they’re both susceptible to click fraud.

Click fraud is a major problem in the PPC industry and affects millions of users every single day.

If you want to stop seeing your PPC budget go up in smoke, then you need PPC protection.

To see how we can help protect your AdWords PPC campaigns, click below.

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