Digital Marketing

The DuckDuckGo Business model- How Does It Make Money?

October 19, 2022

First thing first, what is DuckDuckGo? It is an internet company that helps in taking control of your private information while you are on the web. It's a search engine app that claims to have several privacy protection features, email protection, tracker blocking, and more. It aims to protect your information from third-party trackers like Facebook, Google, and more.

DuckDuckGo has been running profitably since 2014. They have a business model that is independent of the user's private data. So how does DuckDuckGo make money and what does the company stand for? Let’s find out together!

What is The Business Model for DuckDuckGo: How Does DuckDuckGo Make Money?

DuckDuckGo says it's a myth that search engines feed off your personal data by tracking you online. The company’s main source of income comes from affiliate partnerships and private ads on their search engines. Other search engines track your digital footprint and serve you with targeted ads. They keep a record of your purchase history, browsing, and searches based on which they show you ads.

DuckDuckGo doesn't track their users so they have no such records. So ads on their app are based on the search results page that the user is currently viewing. For instance, if a user searches about cars, the engine will show them ads about cars. On the other hand, companies that track a user online will show ads based on their purchase, likes, browsing, subscriptions, and other such activities.

How Does DuckDuckGo Make Money: Search Advertising

Search advertising on the DuckDuckGo app is labelled and comes in the form of sponsored links (right beside the search results). Ads can be privately viewed with no breach of your personal information. The search ad clicks on DuckDuckGo are managed by Microsoft but again it doesn't mean that your ad-click behaviour is associated with a user profile (that is basically you). It also does not share or store any information collected other than for accounting purposes.

How Does DuckDuckGo Make Money: Affiliate Partnership With eBay

DuckDuckGo profits from search ads alone even though they have been on the lookout for other ways of income to reduce their dependence on advertising. And the only other way they found is affiliate marketing with eBay. When a user visits eBay through DuckDuckGo’s search engine and makes a purchase, they receive a small commission. This is an anonymous operation and no information that can identify the user personally is shared.

Affiliate links appear in DuckDuckGo’s regular organic links and do not influence the relevancy or ranking of their functions. They are not involved in paid inclusions or paid advertising, it's just some revenue they receive when the user purchases an item. And similar to their search advertising, affiliate partnerships are not based on any profiling.

Google and Facebook: How Do They Make Money?

Google’s business model brings in money through keyword-based advertising with no search-history tracking. What does this mean? For instance, if you type in a bicycle on the search engine tab on Google, you will find ads for bicycles on the pages you visit. Google majorly focuses on advertising and secondarily as a search engine.

All your searches on Google are tracked, mined, and packed into a data profile that is given to advertisers so that they can follow you around on all your social media accounts. Here is an example from our personal experience: after we searched for jobs on Google, our Instagram stories had several sponsored hiring advertisements related to the job we searched for. This happened even when we went on shopping apps like Ajio or Flipkart. Stories and feeds on our Facebook and Instagram profiles had tons of ads from these apps. Stunned? That’s just the easiest example of how we are look-at and observed in the virtual world.

Google’s ad networks are embedded across millions of apps and websites that allow them to follow you through the internet. The search engine company even accepts that its goal is to reach the creepy line but never cross it. That reminds us of another creepy experience we had: we started seeing memes and fan posters of a movie we downloaded from Telegram as soon as we finished watching it. Nothing can be earlier than that because we never even searched it on any search engines.

Facebook too is watching you on most of the sites you visit and tracks your every move when you use anything in the Metaverse. Thus, both these companies have amassed a ton of data profiles on users that includes location history, browsing history, searches, past purchases, interests, and more. These data are stored indefinitely and are used for invasive targeted advertising that is shadowing you through the internet.

Now how does this affect all of us (apart from our privacy breach)? Such minute tracking leads to unintended consequences such as using the system to influence elections, facilitating discrimination concerning education, housing, and job opportunities.

So, what is DuckDuckGo’s Mission?

DuckDuckGo is on the mission of making privacy protection available to its users. Their core product is free on the web and is packaged with privacy protection software that can even be downloaded.

The Bottom Line: How Does DuckDuckGo Make Money?

DuckDuckGo, the search engine company, receives profits from affiliate partnerships and search-based advertising that does not pry into your privacy. In simple words, DuckDuckGo does not create data profiles based on your online behaviour (this means your search patterns, purchase behaviour, your interests, your ad clicks, etc.).

It simply shows your ad about stuff that you just searched on their search engine. Unlike social media giants like Metaverse and Google who mine, track, and create creepy data profiles on individuals and profit from the ads based on such profiles, DuckDuckGo’s aim is to make privacy protection available to all with simple ads that are related to your current search.

It has ties with Microsoft which manages its search ad clicks. However, this is not related to any creepy profiles created on your internet footprints. So you can rest assured that you are not being tracked online.

How Does DuckDuckgo Make Money FAQs:

1. How does DuckDuckGo make money?

DuckDuckGo’s majority income comes from affiliate marketing and private ads on their search engine. They make profiles of users with their purchase history, browsing, and searches (no tracking history whatsoever). Next, targeted ads are shown when users log in to their search engines.

2. How profitable is DuckDuckGo?

DuckDuckGo had a negligible market share but has turned profitable since 2014. They managed to amass a revenue of over $100 million in 2020. This happened despite StatCounter pegged their strongest platform, mobile market share at 0.04% in 2021, June.

3. Does DuckDuckGo sell your data?

Gabriel Weinberg, DuckDuckGo’s CEO, confirmed that their mobile browser sells user data. It is sent or transferred to properties owned by Microsoft when its users visit certain websites.

4. Who pays DuckDuckGo?

DuckDuckGo is backed by funds from about 20 investors. Bracket Capital and Quiet Capital are their most recent investors. The company has a post-money valuation of $10 million to $50 million (as noted in 2018).

5. Is DuckDuckGo a dark web browser?

DuckDuckGo is a popular search engine that is focused on preserving its users’ privacy. It doesn’t record your tracking history so you are safe in that respect. The search engine’s dark web indexes pages on the dark web that can only be opened with Tor Browser.


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