How Does DuckDuckGo Make Money – DuckDuckGo Business Model Explained 2021

DuckDuckGo is a search engine that highlights the fact that they protect the users’ privacy. The company promotes itself by putting up billboards like “Google Track You, We don’t.”

The company claims that they do not store or track any information or browsing history of the searchers. That’s why the search engine doesn’t show any personalized search results. Instead, all users get the same result upon searching with similar search words.

DuckDuckGo might not be as large as Google; however, in 2021 there were 98.79 million searches per day took place on this search engine.

Founded in 2008, this Pennsylvania-based company has announced that its revenue exceeded $100million in June 2021.

DuckDuckGo makes money from advertising and affiliate marketing. Based on the keywords searches of the users, advertisements get shown. Affiliate programs of Amazon or eBay are the other source of income for DuckDuckgo. Apart from that, as an internet privacy company, it also charges license fees for tracker radar tools.

Let’s know more about DuckDuckGo’s business model in detail.

How Does DuckDuckGo work?

DuckDuckGo confirms that it protects all the data (cookies, search history, personal information, IP address) of the users, even from the company itself. There are more than 98.79 million searches happen per day on this platform.

Just like any other search engine, from images, videos to news or online shopping items– you can get information about almost everything.

As the search engine does not track or save any data, it doesn’t show any personalized or target advertising on the platform.

DuckDuckGo also focuses on providing complete information to the searchers. That’s why it often takes content from other search engines like Yahoo or Bing. However, it doesn’t scrape search content from Google.

As a searcher, you can use DuckDuckGo from your browser or download the mobile app available in both iOS and Android versions. Even this search engine is also integrated with other third-party apps like Wikipedia, apple maps, etc.

Brief History of DuckDuckGo

  • Gabriel Wienberg founded DuckDuckGo in February 2008.
  • The company headquarters is in Paoli, Pennsylvania.
  • Weinberg was a tech-savvy person and always wanted to do something related to technology. He developed software for his parents and as well as formed a company (Learnection) when studying at MIT.
  • Learnection was an online portal where teachers can put their lessons. Unfortunately, this company was not successful.
  • Later, Weinberg developed a social network, Names Database. The platform is not operating currently.
  • Till 2011, Weinberg self-funded “Names Database”. However, later, he managed to get funds from Union Square Ventures and some angel investors.
  • After relocating to Philadelphia, Weinberg launched an online tech-meet platform where entrepreneurs can share ideas with each other.
  • After trying several ideas and launching a couple of businesses like “I’ve got a Fang”, “Tldscan”, he finally came up with the concept of DuckDuckGo.
  • In 2008, Yahoo launched a program where people can build their own search engine based on the results curated from Yahoo. Weinberg developed his website at that time.
  • Weinberg was always concerned about the privacy of the users. That’s why he focuses on that part too much.
  • He spent $7000 on promoting his search engine by putting up billboards that say, “Google tracks you, we don’t”.
  • This promotion strategy was a game-changer for DuckDuckGo. It increased traffic on the platform.
  • To expand his search engine’s capability, he partnered up with Yelp.
  • In 2010, to engage the public more and to know their experience, Weinberg started “duck. co”, a community website.
  • In 2011, it managed to get $3million from investors like Unique Square Ventures and other angel investors.
  • In 2013, when it was revealed that the government of the USA was spying on common people with the help of the NSA, DuckDuckGo got huge attention.
  • Apple and Mozilla set DuckDuckGo as their default browser.
  • From 2014, it got more popular and got almost a 105million traffic every month.
  • In 2016, the company partnered up with Yahoo, Bing, Wikipedia, Yandex to enhance its capability more.
  • In 2018, DuckDuckGo reconstructed the mobile app as well as modified its extensions.
  • The android browser app got a new feature update in 2018 that can retrieve all the visited websites’ favicons. Users were not happy with this feature because it might hamper their privacy. DuckDuckGo assured the users that it would not store any information at all.

    The same feature was introduced in iOS in 2020; however, Weinberg promised to get rid of such privacy issues due to controversies.
  • In 2019, the company got its domain ownership from Google. The new domain name was
  • In the same year, Google added DuckDuckGo to Chrome’s default search engine lists.
  • In 2021, the company announced email protection with its email forwarding feature.
  • Now, DuckDuckGo is one of the top private search engines.

How Does DuckDuckGo Make Money?

The primary source of DuckDuckGo’s income is affiliate programs and keyword advertising. Apart from that, it also charges license fees for its tracker radar.

Let’s get into more details.

Keyword Advertising

Both DuckDuckGo and Google earn most of their revenue from keyword advertising. The only difference is that Google tracks users searching history and keywords for displaying more relevant ads. However, DuckDuckGo doesn’t believe in such targeted ads.

The marketers pay money to DuckDuckGo for appearing on top of the search results for specific keyword-based queries. Many advertisers from the same niche want to come on top of the organic search results. For the same reason, keywords-based auctions happen.

Marketers who pay the most amount get one of the top or some significant in the search results. The advertisers cannot exceed the amount.

DuckDuckGo marks such listings as “ad”. So each time users click on those ads, DuckDuckGo earns a certain amount.

Affiliate Program Commissions

Another major income source of DuckDuckgo is the affiliate programs commissions. Amazon, eBay and other companies promote such affiliate programs where if people buy something from a particular promotional link, the platform earns a certain percentage.

DuckDuckGo has signed up with such affiliate programs. So, when searching with some product-specific keywords, ads of certain products from those online stores appear with the link to purchase the product instantly.

Once the users click on the link and purchase the items, DuckDuckGo earns some amount based on the volume of the products.

There are certain clauses applicable to earn money from those affiliate campaigns. The users have to go through the attribution window to purchase the items. Moreover, the purchase needs to be completed within 24hours after the initial click on the link.

Additionally, some other marketers also pay DuckDuckGo for cross-window attributions campaigns. As a result, DuckDuckGo generates revenue when users search for some particular branded products but buy their products instead.

The commission percentage is dependant on the value, volume or category. For instance, fashion products or accessories get sold easily, so the payment is better than other categories.

DuckDuckGo Tracker Radar

Companies pay certain platforms to track and analyze the data of the users. Then, those platforms show targeted ads to the audiences from the browsing history, name, age, email address, gender, search history, location, and shopping history.

That’s why you get relevant ads based on your searches while using other platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, etc.

The information gets scraped out by trackers installed by the platform like Google or others. DuckDuckGo offers a tracker radar to protect your privacy from such trackers. You can block those trackers as well as upgrade the websites’ encryption and use private search.

Anybody can use the DuckDuckGo tracker radar for free. However, DuckDuckGo charges a license fee for commercial usage to get full access to the tracker radar.

Funding, Revenue and Valuation

As of now, DuckDuckGo has 17 investors, including Union Square Ventures, Scott Banister, Peter Hershberg.  Most recently, investors like Thrive Capital and Tim-Berners-Lee funded the company.

In three rounds of the Fiscal year 2021, DuckDuckGo raised $113 million. In Dec 2020, they raised their latest fundings from a secondary market round.

In the same time span, Google has raised more than $183 billion.

As DuckDuckGo is a private company and DuckDuckGo, Inc. has full ownership of the company, it does not publicly reveal its revenue. However, in a recent interview, Weinberg mentioned that the company was doing good since 2014 and the revenue has exceeded $100 million per year already.

Based on the revenue of the searches that happen in the platform on a daily, monthly or annual basis, the company’s net worth is estimated at $901 million. According to gobankingrates, Google’s net worth is approx $279.3 billion.

So, from the above-mentioned numbers, it can be said that Google is easy ahead of DuckDuckGo. However, DuckDuckGo, as a start-up, is entering the billionaire market and has a sure chance of achieving more.

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