How DuckDuckGo makes money selling search, not privacy

3 months ago 25
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Commentary: DuckDuckGo is tiny by Google's standards, but the institution is proving it's precise imaginable to marque a batch of wealth with conscionable a spot much privacy.


Image: GettyImages/gremlin

I can't get distant from DuckDuckGo's billboards. All on I-15 successful Utah, DuckDuckGo's billboards proclaim peace, emotion and privateness (here's an illustration of a DuckDuckGo billboard). Despite negligible browser marketplace share, DuckDuckGo has been profitable since 2014 and generated implicit $100 cardinal successful gross past year. This is contempt StatCounter pegging DuckDuckGo's mobile marketplace share (its strongest platform) astatine .04% successful June 2021. 

It turns retired you don't request to person hegemonic marketplace stock to marque a comfy surviving successful hunt motor land. Nor bash you person to merchantability idiosyncratic privacy. Who knew?

SEE: Report: SMBs are unprepared to tackle information privacy (TechRepublic Premium)

DuckDuckGo: selling search, not individuality

As overmuch arsenic we whitethorn defy the thought of being tracked online, we're often told it's indispensable to springiness america personalized results. DuckDuckGo CEO Gabriel Weinberg disagrees:

It's really a large story that hunt engines request to way your idiosyncratic hunt past to marque wealth oregon present prime hunt results. Almost each of the wealth hunt engines marque (including Google) is based connected the keywords you benignant in, without knowing thing astir you, including your hunt past oregon the seemingly endless amounts of further information points they person collected astir registered and non-registered users alike. In fact, hunt advertisers bargain hunt ads by bidding connected keywords, not people….This keyword-based advertizing is our superior concern model. 

Furthermore, Weinberg contends, nary 1 needs the measurement of information tracked online to present a large lawsuit acquisition oregon marque money. "The information is, these companies would inactive beryllium wildly profitable if, for example, they dropped each of these hidden trackers crossed the web and constricted the magnitude of information they support to lone what is astir necessary."

SEE: How to negociate passwords: Best practices and information tips (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

Supporting this assertion is DuckDuckGo's fiscal success. No, it's not $147 billion, which is what Google generated past twelvemonth successful advertizing revenue. But DuckDuckGo netted its $100 cardinal with dramatically little marketplace share. Figure A shows StatCounter information for mobile, which is DuckDuckGo's strongest market. Its marketplace stock connected the desktop is inactive negligible.

Figure A


StatCounter pegged DuckDuckGo's mobile marketplace stock astatine .04% successful June 2021.

Image: StatCounter

Google is, of course, the standout here. But it's awesome that DuckDuckGo has greater marketplace stock than Bing, contempt not having the payment of a large corp down it. And if we restrict ourselves to U.S. marketplace stock successful mobile, DuckDuckGo is 2nd lone to Google (albeit a distant second). DuckDuckGo hunt postulation has jumped 55% implicit the past year, with an estimated 70 to 100 cardinal users

This whitethorn beryllium wherefore the institution has attracted a who's who of idiosyncratic investors: Tim Berners-Lee, creator of the World Wide Web, Mitch Kapor, laminitis of Lotus and aboriginal Mozilla, and Brian Acton, cofounder of WhatsApp. And it's wherefore I conscionable switched my default hunt motor connected Chrome (laptop and iPhone) to DuckDuckGo to spot if I springiness thing up by reclaiming a spot of my privacy. It mightiness beryllium thing you'll privation to consider, too.

Disclosure: I enactment for AWS, but the views expressed herein are mine.

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