DuckDuckGo claims Google market share would drop if users given choice

Posted on August 11, 2020


Search engine DuckDuckGo has recently released user research arguing that Google would see its market share decline by around 20% if users were presented with a screen displaying an option of a default search engine.

Last year, in response to a European antitrust ruling against pre-installation of the search engine on mobile devices, Google announced that it would present a number of alternative search options to Android users when they set up their devices.

Following this announcement, the company designed a screen that gave users the option of using Google or three alternatives as their default, with alternative providers being determined based on an auction of competitors, which DuckDuckGo, among others, was critical of. Other competitors also voiced their concerns, slamming it as a “pay to play” system that favoured those with money, while Ecosia boycotted the auction altogether.

Despite its criticism, DuckDuckGo, along with Info.com, bid successfully for all European markets, with the third competitor varying between nations.

Google’s market share currently stands at around 95%, making it hugely dominant in the industry, but DuckDuckGo’s research suggests that this would not be the case if users were presented with alternatives. It found that Google’s market share would drop by 20% in the US, 22% in the UK and 16% in Australia.

As part of the research, DuckDuckGo presented around 9,000 users with a list of alternative choices of search engines, placing Google in different slots within the list. The research found that users were willing to study the entire list, sometimes just to locate Google if it wasn’t at the top or on the first page.

DuckDuckGo argues that whilst most chose Google, up to 20% of its audience isn’t loyal and only uses it as it is set as the default. It also claims that adopting its new variation of the choice screen, which would presumably have more options without the need of an auction, would improve the market share of competitors. It gave Yandex in Russia as an example, as this search engine gained on Google after the antitrust regulators intervened.

DuckDuckGo has been in discussions with the US antitrust regulators and has presented them with its version of the choice screen.

If adopted, those in the online marketing industry would need to diversify their strategies beyond Google. However, it could be challenging for an individual search engine to see a meteoric rise and actively compete with Google.

At Engage Web, whilst we recognise that Google is the dominant search engine, we do keep an eye on developments elsewhere. For help with your online marketing strategy, why not get in touch?

Alan Littler
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