DuckDuckGo, which is a privacy-focused browser, distinguishes itself from Google and other search engines by not capturing your personal information. That means DuckDuckGo never saves or stores your search history, which has helped them to design a smarter, faster, and more secure search experience.
But this also means that unlike Google, DuckDuckGo has to make money in order to stay online. This is where the “sponsored links” you see on the page come into play — as DuckDuckGo offers those link placements to companies who pay for them.
The DuckDuckGo Search Engine does their best to make sure these ads are useful to you. When a company pays DuckDuckGo to display their link, they only show up if they match your search and browser history. The Company also excludes known ad-targets, like porn or gambling sites and violent or extreme websites.
DuckDuckGo Earns Money In Two Ways
The DuckDuckGo Search Engine thinks ad-supported free search is worth it, because it helps keep users online. This means that DuckDuckGo has the resources to maintain a top-notch service, and the resources to study which kinds of ads are useful and which ones aren’t. It also means that DuckDuckGo can keep doing research that leads to better search results for its users.
There are 2 ways in which DuckDuckGo earns money. They are as follows:
- Advertising: DuckDuckGo’s traffic is shown Sponsored Links (including !bangs). So whether you have them enabled or not, you can continue to feel that the open source DuckDuckGo Browser is a useful tool that respects both your privacy and your time.
Their financial independence from advertising helps DuckDuckGo make decisions that benefit the searcher as well. For instance, DuckDuckGo can put more resources into improving and testing new search features for you. They’re also able to hold their own against their competitors, which means they can keep the quality of their search results high and free from censorship.
Now, if you’ve read this far you might be wondering why won’t DuckDuckGo just charge for ads and get the money elsewhere — like in a normal business company model?
First off, it just doesn’t work that way: financially independent companies are often beholden to investors who demand returns on their investments. Without them there would be no company at all.
But more importantly, DuckDuckGo believes that not charging for search is important for something else: it helps us humans remain a free and open society. It’s a huge barrier to entry which keeps out the kind of digital advertising that the search engine doesn’t want — like the kind that would track you or sell your personal information.
If you don’t like DuckDuckGo ads, then simply turn them off. The search results will still be just as good and you won’t have to worry about tracking or third party companies having access to your user data behind the scenes.
To help understand how to make money from search, DuckDuckGo started offering “!bangs” in 2008. These are URLs that let you search directly on other websites, and they bypass the results from DuckDuckGo. For example: !w (weather) or !a (amazon). Companies like Amazon or Yelp pay DuckDuckGo to display their links, because they know it drives traffic and the return will be more overall. DuckDuckGo gives you these !bangs for free because they believe in a better world wide web with less tracking and more privacy.
Duck Duck Go is made up of volunteers. The only way to support the search engine is by directly offering a donation, which they will always give free of charge to the cause for which the donation is made.
What About Donations?
DuckDuckGo does not ask users for donations. Instead they want you to spread the word about their service, and disable ad blockers.
In actual fact, DuckDuckGo actually earns money by selling search.
Everyone knows that Google has its eyes on you, and DuckDuckGo lets people choose not to be tracked by Google — and they also educate them about the tracking they’re subject to, and provide them a way out of it if required.
This means giving people a piece of application software that does the work for them.
In short, DuckDuckGo gives people the real Google Search they can trust, with its 1 billion results. Vitally however, there’s nothing else out there that gives you as much private searching capability or as many features in a browser.
People are taking their privacy seriously, which is why there will always be a market for products like DuckDuckGo. It has struggled to generate revenue, but still made a profit in 2017. The decentralized nature of the company is a key reason for its success.
While it doesn’t use advertising, it does deal with rewards from users for referring them to other users. It makes money this way through partnerships and by selling merchandise that has been designed solely for DuckDuckGo. The founder of DuckDuckGo, Gabriel Weinberg’s goal was always to build an ad-free alternative; that remains one of their most important goals today.
The Case For DuckDuckGo And Privacy
It would be prudent to reiterate this fact: DuckDuckGo search is completely anonymous, and no personal information is required.
In the near future, privacy will be more important than ever. With governments and large corporations demanding both our private and personal data, we need to take a stand and protect ourselves by refusing to share what we know with them.
Because of this, it’s essential that we find new ways of communicating without giving out sensitive information — after all, we would never give out our IDs or credit-card numbers over the phone or online if someone called us or emailed us.
Apps and privacy is an important theme in this day and age. The more we use privacy-oriented apps and services like DuckDuckGo search, the more privacy we’ll get. This is why thinking about privacy even when it comes to mobile app development is critically important.