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What Is The Difference Between AdWords & AdWords Express?

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In this short article we’re going to look at the difference between AdWords and AdWords Express.

Although Google AdWords has been renamed to Google Ads, and AdWords Express has technically been replaced by Smart Campaigns, many people still prefer to use the terms AdWords and AdWords Express.

So, what is the difference?

I’m not going to cover every single aspect, but let’s look at the key difference(s).

Basically, AdWords Express was developed by Google as a system to make it easier for businesses to get started on the platform/

AdWords Express showed up in 2011, based off feedback from small businesses and DIY advertisers that it was too hard to set up campaigns and start advertising.

Compared with regular AdWords/Google Ads, AdWords Express is much more limited in terms of what you can do.


The whole idea is to allow you to quickly and easily set up your account and campaign(s) and get advertising.

You give up a substantial amount of control and optimisation potential, but in exchange you get simple, easy access to the core of Google’s ad platform, automatic optimisation and almost ‘hands-off’ management.

That is the key difference between AdWords & AdWords Express.

With AdWords, you get all of the features and all of the complexity. There is more power and potential for optimisation, but you need much more technical knowledge to see the best benefit.

With AdWords Express you sacrifice a lot of the targeting, customisation and optimisation capabilities of regular AdWords, but it is much easier to get started and there is less requirement for ongoing management.

There are more technical differences, but at a high-level what I’ve outlined above is the key distinction.

One is a stripped-down, lightweight interface to make getting started easier for DIY advertisers and small businesses.

The other is the full platform for advanced advertisers or those who want maximum control and flexibility.

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