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DuckDuckGo is actually profitable! It is a myth you need to track people to make money in Web search. Most of the money is still made without tracking people by showing you ads based on your keyword, i.e. type in car and get a car ad. These ads are lucrative because people have buying intent. All that tracking is for the rest of the Internet without this search intent, and that's why you're tracked across the Internet with those same ads.

I think it's great what you're doing (DDG is my default search engine). And I'm glad you're profitable so you can stay alive.

But I'd like to think that if you could find a way other than ads, you'd take it in a heartbeat, even if you made less profit, but as long as you could be self-sustaining. Is that true?

I have a very strong opinion about advertising and its effects on the web. I would love to hear your feedback on them:



I'm trying to spin up a movement to shift the web away from its reliance on ads. Let me know if you can be an advisor or resource for that. One day I might thank you in the way you thank all those other founders you listed above. :)

Yup, that's very true but the numbers just don't add up well on search in terms of subscription or donation. We have tried to do much less advertising, making it up on affiliate revenue, but we can't do that much because of our privacy policy. We can only use programs that can be anonymous, which means the companies run them themselves through URL parameters, and that's really just Amazon and eBay.

If you don't mind sharing, how much do you get through those affiliate programs compared to advertising?

Also, would you consider providing some kind of paid model in addition to ads? I use DDG dozens of times per day as my primary search engine; I would happily pay for it. I realize that model doesn't scale to the entire world, as only a fraction of people will pay, but do you have some way for people who like what you're doing to pay you a modest amount, with as little friction as Patreon and similar?

We haven't disclosed it, but advertising is the bulk.

The problem with paid is three-fold. We're a for-profit company so don't want to come off as taking donations like a non-profit. Second, we don't want to collect personal information. So we could do something like bitcoin but that isn't exactly low-friction :). Third, it is promoting that it exists. We have a hard problem getting the word out about anything not on the SERP and we wouldn't want to put it there.

Open to other ideas though.

Regarding personal information, I have no problem providing payment information, as long as that isn't tied to accounts/searches/etc. (A separate service, similar to Patreon, seems ideal.) But I do realize that the number of people willing to pay you may not justify the work needed to set something up.

I do understand your concern about not wanting to appear to take donations, though. I just wish I had some way to pay you for your service that doesn't involve viewing or clicking on ads.


We really suggest people who want to help to just help spreading DuckDuckGo, which is honestly our biggest problem (not money): https://duckduckgo.com/spread

Could it be up to the user? For example, subscribers do not see ads, but everybody else does? Or does that not work for your advertising customers?

It more doesn't work for our privacy policy since we don't track users.

I think that the fact that DDG has a no tracking policy allows users to turn their ad blocking off, this might contribute something towards profitability...

I definitely whitelist ddg on all my computers.

As an advertiser, I would love to advertise on DDG, but to do so, I have to use Bing which means 99% of my ad spend does NOT go to DDG. I don't care about tracking - just want to reach a great audience that is using DDG. Will it ever happen (DDG native ads)?

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