How Does DuckDuckGo Make Money

The idea of a search engine that doesn’t spy on you (not as much as the likes of Google, at least) sounds extremely appealing. However, you may assume that it’s not going to work, as the developers still need to make a living somehow. Taking this into consideration, it makes sense to ask how DuckDuckGo (DDG) makes money and what its prospects are.

How Does DuckDuckGo Make Money

You might be surprised to learn that there are ways to make a profit other than using cookies and throwing excessive, irritating ads at users all the time. While DuckDuckGo doesn’t make billions of dollars, it is financially stable. You are about to learn why.

Advertising Opposite from Google’s

The first of the two big ways in which DuckDuckGo manages to make money is related to good old advertising. But this is not your typical advertising, as unlike most other search engines (and just websites in general), DDG doesn’t use tracking. It doesn’t even need cookies, which are considered necessary by some of its competitors.

Instead, what it does is follow the data that’s being typed instead of following your behavior, past search history, click behavior, etc. It just checks what you’re looking for, and then it shows up ads regarding the search query (assuming it can come with any relevant ads, that is).

The biggest difference between DDG and Google is that Google is more of a global corporation, while DuckDuckGo is still primarily a search engine. Google makes it a priority to gain money and show you as many ads as possible, while DDG is genuinely committed to protecting your privacy. A comparison between their revenues shows this, as Google’s revenue nears a hundred billion dollars, while DDG’s is somewhere about a million.

Affiliate Marketing

DuckDuckGo uses affiliate marketing to gain additional revenue. Its ads are linked to e-commerce corporations such as eBay and Amazon. This means that, whenever you make a purchase on those sites, if DDG brought you there, it takes a commission. This is possible thanks to eBay and Amazon having their own affiliate networks.

Yahoo! also works with DuckDuckGo, as it receives DDG’s search queries, but just like DDG, it doesn’t collect any info about the individuals searching the web.

To Use DuckDuckGo or Not to Use It?

The only disadvantage of using DuckDuckGo is that it may not have results as accurate as Google’s. The results are not personalized because DuckDuckGo doesn’t use your browsing history and click behavior, so it can’t predict which results you will be the most interested in.

Still, there are numerous advantages of using DuckDuckGo over Google, and privacy is not the only one.


For one, it has this useful feature called “bangs.” The idea is to make searching a specific site much easier and faster. By typing the exclamation mark, followed by the site’s “code” and a search query, DDG will instantly send the command to that site, showing the site’s search results, not its own.

DuckDuckGo bang

This is especially useful if you know exactly which website you want to look up. For example, if you want to look up a movie on IMDb, but you don’t know the full name, you can write a single word after a bang and hit the search button. Likewise, if you type the exact article name when searching on Wikipedia, it’ll take you to that article’s page. You can find out more about “bangs” by clicking on this link.

IMDb example

Instant Answers

Instant answers are a set of interactive, informative, and useful functions and answers that DuckDuckGo can quickly provide. Some examples include web apps such as a calculator and a weather forecast, a quick search for the most popular Amazon products of a certain type, and a cheat sheet with specific app hotkeys. You can also always see the current list of instant answers that DuckDuckGo provides by going to this site.

Photoshop answer

Keep Searching

DuckDuckGo is a great way to browse the web without having a fear of being spied on. If you can get over a somewhat decreased accuracy level and you like experiencing new things, give DDG a try. You may also find its other functions convenient to use.

If you have used DuckDuckGo, what are your thoughts about it? Which bangs and instant answers do you find helpful? Share your experiences with us in the comments below.

14 thoughts on “How Does DuckDuckGo Make Money”

More than a decade old google user says:
Just switched to DDG yesterday, Obviously, there are still few things that attract me to Google and Nobody can truly get rid of Google if they wanna live in the modern world, But with all the privacy concerns and especially being very annoyed by targets personalized ads, I finally made it to DDG on Edge (Yes, I removed chrome too), So far, I like it, it is simple, gives what I want and you gotta love the dark mode..I think I will stick to DDG from now on.. I will still use Google things but, every day I am finding better privacy focused alternatives to Google.
Ben says:
I’ve used DDG for almost a decade. I still, but rarely, go back to google for searches DDG has difficulty with. Finding bearings, gears, or mechanical components. I like DDG but do not like wikipedia being the first result on all my queries. Oh well. They must sponsor them or something.
Bernard Pauler Palabasan says:
I’ve been using DDG for almost a year a so I love it!
Michelle Chung says:
Made the switch to DDG this week and so far, it’s only been positive. Nice UI, increased peace of mind over my privacy, search results seem unbiased and accurate. My reservations over making the switch seem silly now.
George Levins says:
I have been on DDG for three days and I love it. I keep waiting for “the catch.” There appears to be none. I am an industry civilian. I think others who have posted negative commets are not.
Gorgon Morgachomp says:
I’ve used ddg for 3+ years and been super happy with it. Been slowly unplugging myself from the orwellian nightmare that is Google one app or service at a time.

Doubly so with their search meddling, political stance, and “Californiashould control the Usa” mentality.

Manish Pokharel says:
When I usually search something in DDG, I find DDG more relevent than Google, cause google throws unnecessary informations sometime that makes hard to find what I am actually looking for.
John Doe says:
I find it amazing how many people tolerate ads. By installing uBlock Origin, AdBlock Plus, or about a half dozen other ad blockers, all ads can be blocked on any browser but Chrome. If I could effectively block all ads on Chrome and if Google wasn’t so biased politically, I really wouldn’t care if they tracked my traffic or not.
Bill Whitesides says:
Not sure where the idea that DDG is not as accurate- I’ve been using it for years and cannot recall one single instance of not getting “accurate” information. I find it to be equal if not better than Google, without the snooping.
Cindy Stec says:
And the result of that thinking are pay walls on every site you might want to visit and business closures. You can either pay with money or pay with the uncomfortableness, but that saying of nothing is free may be overworn, but that doesn’t make it less true. If you don’t want to participate in the internet economy, I think those people should be barred from it.
JIMBO says:
So now you’re telling me that the DDG doesn’t want grand wealth? Finding that a bit hard to believe how much could it be worth? Everything that doesn’t eat too much is for sale same as big eaters. A great idea for sure but for how long? There are others that have attempted this and still do but to no real success. Looking at the vertical world through a horizontal position can be enlightening.
Kruqalius says:
Your spouting a whole lot of nothing for someone who supposedly knows a lot. “Looking at the vertical world through a horizontal position can be enlightening.” Then do tell what does it want? Are you suggesting that in order to be successful a business has to be predatory? Because you’re sounding a lot like the tech giants who subvert normality.
Koen Bekx says:
I’m using DuckDuckGo for a few years already and often find it no less accurate than Google. Usually, if DuckDuckGo doesn’t find what I’m looking for, Google won’t either.
Osama Othman says:
someday hopefully duckduckgo will become on par with google, as increasingly we see that google’s allegiance to the consumer is weakening in the shadow of stock price, shareholders and wall street. someday google might make a mistake which will shift the consumer to avoid the eyes of google. we already see them wanting to get into china under the chinese government supervision

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