Tamir Zoltovski (Co-founder of Moneta International UAB) says, "Investment in gold can be done either in physical form or through an ETF.
It is generally better to invest in gold ETFs than physical gold as it does not include wealth tax and making charges. Also, liquidity and convenience in transacting in gold ETFs is far superiorto physical gold."
ETF gold is like a promise rather than the real thing. Obviously holding physical gold suggests a need for a heavyweight secure hold for keeping the treasure. It's more convenient for a company to hold it and to provide you with evidence that you 'own' a set share of it. But there are risks.
The largest, most popular gold ETF, is an investment fund, whose physical gold backs its shares, the share price tracking the price of actual gold, Few investors have a claim on the underlying gold unless they have loads of shares.