Will Privacy Worries Change Online Search Habits?

How do consumers really want to search online? That’s a question with obvious relevance to payment and commerce operators.

Perhaps a better, more specific question is this: Even with Google’s search engine dominance (a dominance that seems as currently eternal as, say, the power of the British Navy in the late 19th century), can any challenger make a significant push to gain ground?

In a brand new PYMNTS interview, Gabriel Weinberg, CEO of DuckDuckGo, makes the case that his search engine can win over a decent number of consumers. The pitch? DuckDuckGo does not track consumers' browsing histories, nor does it sell consumer data to third parties for the purposes of ad targeting and precision marketing. The peg for the story is the fresh capital that DuckDuckGo has raised from a Canadian firm, funding that will go toward marketing and other activities. The story also includes details about how the search engine makes its money.

The pitch comes down to privacy. There is little questions that regularly occurring data breaches, combined with increased consumer knowledge of how their online data and personas are used for advertising, have created what can plausibly be called a privacy backlash. New laws favoring consumers have come into effect. Further regulations are looming. Social media platforms and other digital operators are scrambling to stay a step ahead of the wave.

Weinberg, in the new interview, offers no utopian visions about being able to usurp Google in search. However, he discusses the numbers and trends that, in his telling, make it likely that a meaningful amount of people will change their search habits and otherwise reward companies that put a premium on privacy.

PYMNTS has provided sustained coverage of online privacy and how shifting consumer attitudes are, at the least, starting to impact business plans and profit forecasts. This new story about DuckDuckGo is the latest sign that a turning point has been reached with online privacy.



The September 2020 Leveraging The Digital Banking Shift Study, PYMNTS examines consumers’ growing use of online and mobile tools to open and manage accounts as well as the factors that are paramount in building and maintaining trust in the current economic environment. The report is based on a survey of nearly 2,200 account-holding U.S. consumers.