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How DuckDuckGo makes cash promoting search, not privateness



Commentary: DuckDuckGo is small by Google’s requirements, however the firm is proving it’s totally doable to make some huge cash with only a bit extra privateness.


Picture: GettyImages/gremlin

I can not get away from DuckDuckGo’s billboards. All alongside I-15 in Utah, DuckDuckGo’s billboards proclaim peace, love and privateness (this is an instance of a DuckDuckGo billboard). Regardless of negligible browser market share, DuckDuckGo has been worthwhile since 2014 and generated over $100 million in income final yr. That is regardless of StatCounter pegging DuckDuckGo’s cellular market share (its strongest platform) at .04% in June 2021. 

It seems you need not have hegemonic market share to make a cushty residing in search engine land. Nor do it’s important to promote person privateness. Who knew?

SEE: Report: SMBs are unprepared to sort out knowledge privateness (TechRepublic Premium)

DuckDuckGo: promoting search, not identification

As a lot as we might resist the concept of being tracked on-line, we’re typically informed it is necessary to offer us customized outcomes. DuckDuckGo CEO Gabriel Weinberg disagrees:

It is truly a giant fantasy that search engines like google and yahoo want to trace your private search historical past to earn a living or ship high quality search outcomes. Virtually all the cash search engines like google and yahoo make (together with Google) relies on the key phrases you kind in, with out understanding something about you, together with your search historical past or the seemingly countless quantities of extra knowledge factors they’ve collected about registered and non-registered customers alike. In actual fact, search advertisers purchase search advertisements by bidding on key phrases, not individuals….This keyword-based promoting is our major enterprise mannequin. 

Moreover, Weinberg contends, nobody wants the quantity of information tracked on-line to ship a fantastic buyer expertise or earn a living. “The very fact is, these firms would nonetheless be wildly worthwhile if, for instance, they dropped all of those hidden trackers throughout the net and restricted the quantity of information they maintain to solely what’s most crucial.”

SEE: Easy methods to handle passwords: Finest practices and safety ideas (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

Supporting this declare is DuckDuckGo’s monetary success. No, it is not $147 billion, which is what Google generated final yr in promoting income. However DuckDuckGo netted its $100 million with dramatically much less market share. Determine A exhibits StatCounter knowledge for cellular, which is DuckDuckGo’s strongest market. Its market share on the desktop continues to be negligible.

Determine A


StatCounter pegged DuckDuckGo’s cellular market share at .04% in June 2021.

Picture: StatCounter

Google is, in fact, the standout right here. Nevertheless it’s spectacular that DuckDuckGo has larger market share than Bing, regardless of not having the advantage of a giant company behind it. And if we limit ourselves to U.S. market share in cellular, DuckDuckGo is second solely to Google (albeit a distant second). DuckDuckGo search visitors has jumped 55% over the previous yr, with an estimated 70 to 100 million customers

This can be why the corporate has attracted a who’s who of particular person buyers: Tim Berners-Lee, creator of the World Extensive Net, Mitch Kapor, founding father of Lotus and later Mozilla, and Brian Acton, cofounder of WhatsApp. And it is why I simply switched my default search engine on Chrome (laptop computer and iPhone) to DuckDuckGo to see if I give something up by reclaiming a little bit of my privateness. It may be one thing you will wish to take into account, too.

Disclosure: I work for AWS, however the views expressed herein are mine.

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