Business Operations Business Models

How Does DuckDuckGo Make Money (Business and Revenue Model)

The DuckDuckGo business model

how does DuckDuckGo make money?
Here’s what you should know:
  • What is DuckDuckGo, and how does DuckDuckGo work?
  • How does DuckDuckGo make money?
  • Advertising
  • Affiliate Revenue
  • Selling Merchandise
  • DuckDuckGo’s profit and revenue
  • DuckDuckGo’s funding and valuation
  • What is the DuckDuckGo business and revenue model?

How does DuckDuckGo makes money? Well, here is a full, in depth, breakdown of their three (3) revenue streams and the different products and services they offer, as well as the DuckDuckGo business model, their year over year revenue, and how DuckDuckGo works.

What is DuckDuckGo, and how does DuckDuckGo work?

Founded in 2008 by Gabriel Weinberg, DuckDuckGo is a search engine marketed as the “Privacy Engine.”

What made DuckDuckGo so attractive to users is, unlike Google, they do not collect or store any personal information of yours. Their privacy policy is simple and straightforward – “we don’t collect or share any of your personal information.”

Available for download through the App Store and Google Play on both mobile and desktop.

Some of DuckDuckGo’s competitors include Google, Yahoo!, Bing, Firefox, Brave, Opera, and other search engines.

How does DuckDuckGo make money?

DuckDuckGo is a search engine, so their revenue is directly tied to how many searches they can get on their search engine.

2020 was a record-breaking year for DuckDuckGo – receiving 23,653,663,401 (23.65 billion) total search queries that year.

And as of January 2021, DuckDuckGo was receiving an average of 80 million+ search queries per day. If they continue at this pace, they will be well on their way to setting another record-setting year with over 29 billion search queries in 2021.

DuckDuckGo Traffic Growth Year Over Year

So how does DuckDuckGo make money from those 23.65 billion search queries?

Below is a breakdown of the three (3) ways DuckDuckGo monetizes its users and search queries — all 23,653,663,401 of them.

Here are the 3 ways how DuckDuckGo makes money (in 2022):

DuckDuckGo has a revenue model that makes money in three (3) ways – advertising, affiliate revenue, and selling merchandise.

#1. Advertising

DuckDuckGo advertising works much like Google advertising, except without the tracking and privacy concerns.

Google’s U.S. digital ad revenue in 2020 was $39.58 billion.

Although we cannot calculate DuckDuckGo’s average revenue per user (ARPU) because they do not release how many users use their search engine for privacy reasons – we can calculate DuckDuckGo’s average revenue per search query instead.

If we take their actual reported revenue in 2018 of $25 million and put it next to their 9,239,676,317 search queries that year. We can estimate each search query is worth roughly $0.0027.

Their ads show up at the top of the search results in the form of a sponsored link from the advertiser. (like the example below)

DuckDuckGo Sponsored Links Example | how does DuckDuckGo make money?
Source: DuckDuckGo

But if DuckDuckGo doesn’t collect any information on you. How do they show targeted ads to their users?

As DuckDuckGo explains it, instead of collecting the personal information of users to show targeted ads. They instead, show you ads just based on what you just searched for in the search bar. For example, if you searched “looking for a car”, DuckDuckGo will show you car-related ads.

Note: The user also has the option to disable ads if they decide not the see them.

#2. Affiliate Revenue

DuckDuckGo also earns revenue by participating in Amazon’s and eBay’s affiliate programs.

How it works is: When you (1) visit Amazon or eBay through DuckDuckGo or !Bang, another search feature of DuckDuckGo, and (2) make a purchase on these sites – (3) DuckDuckGo receives an affiliate commission.

Commission rates:

  • Amazon’s Affiliate Program: 1% – 10% based on product category
  • eBay’s Partner Network: 1% – 6% based on product category
eBay's partner network | how does DuckDuckGo make money?
Source: eBay’s Partner Network
Amazon's affiliate program | how does DuckDuckGo make money?
Source: Amazon’s Affiliate Program

#3. Selling Merchandise

DuckDuckGo also has its own merchandise store if you want to support them and their privacy movement.

They don’t have a big product line – mainly just focusing on t-shirts, socks, logo stickers, and pop sockets for right now.

  • Apparel: $10 – $20
  • Accessories: $1 – $10
DuckDuckGo merchandise | how does DuckDuckGo make money?

The website makes it clear that DuckDuckGo does not manage this online store, and it’s 100% managed and operated by Future Shirts. Profit spits are also not made clear.

Though this may not be a lucrative revenue stream, it’s still a form of revenue nonetheless.

DuckDuckGo’s profit and revenue

With those two (2) sources of revenue: advertising, and affiliate revenue. How much does that make them in a given fiscal year?

Well, according to reports, DuckDuckGo earned $25 million of revenue in 2018, a result of the 9,239,676,317 total search queries DuckDuckGo had on their platform that year.

If you take that same math and apply it to the 23,653,663,401 total search queries they had in 2020, their revenue would estimate to be roughly ~$64 million in 2020 if everything stayed the same.

DuckDuckGo’s funding and valuation

When Gabriel Weinberg, founder of DuckDuckGo, launched, he was self-funding through the advertising and affiliate commissions the company generated.

Since then, DuckDuckGo has raised two (2) rounds of venture type funding. Raising $3 million back on Oct 13, 2011 and another $10 million more recently on Aug 21, 2018 following the Google privacy breaches and transparency.

Since 2015, with just over $1 million in revenue, DuckDuckGo has become, remained, and grew in profitability year-over-year.

What is the DuckDuckGo business and revenue model?

DuckDuckGo makes money through a few revenue models that they combine within their company, they are:

  • Advertising based business model
  • Commission based business model