DuckDuckGo is a search engine that many people use because of its focus on privacy. But how does DuckDuckGo make money if it doesn’t track user data? In this article, we will explore the DuckDuckGo business model and how the platform has been monetized.
What Is DuckDuckGo?
DuckDuckGo is a search engine that was created in 2008 by Gabriel Weinberg. Weinberg created the search engine because he was unsatisfied with how Google handled privacy. As opposed to other search engines like Google and Bing, DuckDuckGo has placed an emphasis on privacy and does not track user data. This has led DuckDuckGo to become very popular in recent years, especially as concerns about online privacy have increased.
DuckDuckGo’s interface is very clean and minimalistic, which can be appealing in contrast to all of the features and applications Google and Bing have built into their platforms.
As of October 2022, DuckDuckGo users are currently performing about 94 million searches per month. This is still minuscule compared to the ~8.5 billion that Google sees on a daily basis, but it’s enough to firmly entrench the platform among the top 10 biggest search engines in the world.
How does DuckDuckGo make money in 2022? Great question!
How Does DuckDuckGo Make Money?
Keyword Search Ads
Similar to Google, DuckDuckGo makes money by displaying ads. When you perform a search on the platform, you will see a list of results that includes both organic results as well as sponsored results. The sponsored results are paid for by companies who want their website to be at the top of the list. This is a fairly common practice that Google and Bing employ as well.
At the time of writing this, keyword display ads are the only way that DuckDuckGo is monetized. These keyword ads are set up by media buyers and work on a bidding system similar to Google.
How does DuckDuckGo make money, other than keyword search ads?
Well, in addition to the search ads, DuckDuckGo has small affiliate partnerships with marketplaces like eBay and Amazon. When you visit these sites after clicking a link on DuckDuckGo, the search platform will get a small percentage of the money you spend as a commission. This accounts for a very small percentage of the company’s revenue, though.
How Is The DuckDuckGo Business Model Different Than Google’s?
In addition to keyword display ads, Google has a ton of other ways that it is monetized. Google has a ton of apps and products in its ecosystem, so it’s important to keep that in mind. Google tracks a ton of your data and uses that to target you with the Google Ads display network, Youtube ads, Gmail ads, and more.
Due to DuckDuckGo’s hard stance against tracking user data (its main value proposition), DuckDuckGo doesn’t have many options available. Keyword display ads are one of the only ways that the search engine can make revenue, without directly charging users for the service.
There’s still a lot of potential for DuckDuckGo to expand the anonymous affiliate portion of its platform, but it’s still small for the time being.
How Much Money Does DuckDuckGo Make?
As of 2021, DuckDuckGo is making revenues of about $100 Million per year. This is a drop in the bucket compared to Google and Bing’s 2021 revenues of $204 Billion and $8.5 Billion respectively, but it’s not bad given that it’s a smaller company that arguably puts its users first.
Why Do People Use DuckDuckGo?
Most people use DuckDuckGo because they don’t want to be tracked, or have their data be sold to/shared with third-party companies. All other search engines are compiling files on you based on your search history, your location, what you click on, and more — and they use this data to make money off you.
DuckDuckGo is a lot more straightforward and respectful of your privacy. You don’t have to worry about all of that when you perform your searches — everything is above board. The non-ad results are still determined through best SEO practices.
Not sure what we mean? Well, try this and see for yourself: open a google browser, and search for something you’ve never searched for before. For example, type in ‘hair loss treatment’, and click on every search result on the first page. If there’s a product being sold, add it to your cart, and then exit the browser.
Over the next few days, there’s a very strong chance you’ll see ads for hair loss treatments as you browse the web. That’s because Google has tracked your activity and determined that you’re likely to buy something. They’re now passing you off to an advertiser to close the deal.
Who Has Funded DuckDuckGo?
DuckDuckGo’s revenues are only part of the equation. According to their Crunchbase profile, DuckDuckGo has received >$172 Million in funding from 20 venture capital firms and private investors.
These investments have undoubtedly accelerated DuckDuckGo’s growth, since, as we covered in the ‘how does DuckDuckGo make money’ section above, DuckDuckGo only sees annual revenues of ~$100 Million.
Is DuckDuckGo profitable?
Yes, the company is currently turning a profit. How does DuckDuckGo make money with only $100 million in revenue? The answer is by keeping a small team. The company only employs ~180 people as of August 2022, which is considered to be small by large-scale tech company standards.
How does DuckDuckGo work?
On the front end, you can use DuckDuckGo the same way you’d use Google — just type in a search query and you’ll get results. On the back end, your search history is never stored on the platform — although it may still be visible in your web browser’s history.
Does DuckDuckGo track you?
DuckDuckGo does not track you — that’s the main value proposition. Without this feature, there’d be little reason to use it.
Does DuckDuckGo hide from router?
No, DuckDuckGo does not hide your search activity from your router or your internet service provider. Your data is not encrypted.
Does DuckDuckGo use Google?
No, DuckDuckGo has a proprietary search algorithm that does not use Google or Bing’s data.
Is DuckDuckGo safe?
Yes, DuckDuckGo is safe. In fact, it’s arguably safer than Google and Bing, given that your data is not being tracked, compiled, and shared with third parties.
How does DuckDuckGo make money for advertisers?
Advertisers bid on keywords, which results in them receiving more traffic to their websites. There, they can ideally sell more products or services, and make a return on their advertising spend.
How does DuckDuckGo make money for its investors?
As we mentioned above, DuckDuckGo is a private company and currently has about 20 investors. How does DuckDuckGo make money for them? Well, the two main options are with dividends, or with an exit.
At some point in the future, DuckDuckGo may choose to pay out a portion of its revenue to investors as dividends. Or, DuckDuckGo may agree to be acquired by a bigger company, which would then provide liquidity to shareholders. However, at the time of writing this article, there has been no mention of plans to sell the company.
Hopefully, we’ve helped give you a better understanding of DuckDuckGo’s business model!
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The reason DuckDuckGo is succeeding is that it is taking a service that has been proven to work — online search — and has put a different spin on it — privacy.
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