What is the business model of DuckDuckGos

Search engine advertising

Search engine DuckDuckGo profitable without tracking

Google and DuckDuckGo both make their money from advertising. The difference is in how they do it and what they ask the user to do. In a public question and answer session, CEO Weinberg gave insight into what matters to him with DuckDuckGo.

Can any other business model for search engines be profitable than that of Google, Yahoo or Bing? Yes, said Gabriel Weinberg, CEO of DuckDuckGo, now in a public question and answer session on YCombinator’s Hacker News. The search engine, which was founded by Weinberg in 2008 and is based on open source code, has committed itself to the data protection of its users with its privacy policy - and earns money with it. Instead of tracking, the search engine relies on direct, clearly visible advertisements that match the search query. Weinberg's answer to the question of how DuckDuckGo could even finance itself was very simple: someone looking for a car will see a page that sells cars as the first search result.

Advertising remains the main source of income

The advertisement is always marked as "advertisement". If the user clicks on the ad, the search engine is rewarded by the advertiser. Sounds easy. However, several participants in the AMA wanted to know whether there might not be other methods of generating income. Weinberg pointed out that this is the only source of income and that one refrains from tracking, payment models or donations. The first is automatically excluded by the privacy agreement. Paying for the search service would also be difficult, since the payment information is also private data - and you also want to refrain from using bitcoins. They also said they did not want to trust donations. Weinberg only called for the idea of ​​DuckDuckGo to be spread and the search engine to be made more popular.

Data protection and transparency as a business model

DuckDuckGo still has very few followers in this country compared to Google with 94 percent market share. Nevertheless, the total number of users of DuckDuckGo has increased enormously since 2012, a traffic sheet provided by the search engine gives an up-to-date view of the number of search queries. In September of this year there were over three billion searches. After the Snowden discoveries about the NSA in June 2013, another 77 million, a year later 1.5 billion. So the trend continues towards a search engine that respects its own privacy and still offers a comparably good range of functions. The decision of the European Court of Justice on the illegality of the Safe Harbor data protection agreement underscores this development. While Google can worry about how it will continue to channel the data of European users into the USA through legal loopholes and agreements such as TTIP, DuckDuckGo can continue to legitimately offer its service from San Francisco. However, the problem could be felt elsewhere.

Apart from the fact that DuckDuckGo cooperates with the Russian search engine provider Yandex and uses its index, it has partnerships with Yahoo, Amazon, Ebay, Yelp and many others. These partners are mainly advertising partners who place advertisements on the search engine. Weinberg indicated that Ebay and Amazon in particular are important partners through which the search engine distributes its advertisements. The user is not tracked by DuckDuckGo, but if he clicks on an advertisement from Amazon, the online mail order company takes over the "data work". But Amazon and Ebay will also have to revise their business models due to the decision of the ECJ and possibly have to throttle the data collection.

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