May 26, 2021, 12:30–13:30
DuckDuckGo is a privacy technology company that helps consumers stay more private online. DuckDuckGo has been competing in the search engine market since 2008, and it is currently the 4th largest search engine across North America and Europe. From the vantage point of a company vigorously trying to compete, DuckDuckGo can hopefully provide useful background on the search engine market. Among the many search engines that exist, Google and Microsoft (Bing) are the only ones to own a fully independent infrastructure for globally indexing the web and providing an ad feed. Other global search engines, including DuckDuckGo, syndicate part of their search results and ads from either Google or Microsoft. A few other companies operate analogous regional infrastructure, such as in China and Russia. To appeal to consumers, a search engine needs to provide high-quality search features in addition to organic web links, such as instant answers, images, maps, and news, not all of which can be syndicated from the major search engines. Put another way, to be competitive, a search engine needs its own technology to incorporate all these features and ensure they appear at the right times. Three options exist for getting users to adopt a particular search engine: (1) be the default search engine on web browsers (which is massively expensive); (2) be the default on a browser developed by the search engine itself, like DuckDuckGo has done on mobile; (3) convince consumers to change their default settings (which may not even be possible on certain platforms). Preference menus, where consumers are able to select their default search engine, are well-suited for the search engine market because most browsers and operating systems are already controlled by search engine parent companies. Measuring search engine market share is challenging because comprehensive and objective data sets are not readily available. For example, DuckDuckGo, as an all-in-one privacy solution, blocks trackers in its apps and extensions, including measurement tags used by market research firms. To measure market share, governments need to combine log data directly sourced from a wide sample of appropriately selected websites.