Privacy has been an increasingly hot topic, putting tech giants (such as Google, Facebook, and Apple) at the forefront. These three tycoons, in particular, attribute a good portion of their growth to advertising dollars.
The ability to customize advertising to target specific demographics and audiences was and still is appealing to advertisers. It tends to yield a higher return on ad spend and places ads in front of consumers most likely to convert.
Public perception has not been in favor of personalized advertising, and it’s leading to a privacy-first focus. We’ve seen this combated with Apple’s Tracking Transparency update and Google’s pledge to rid all third-party cookies and updates to their Privacy Sandbox.
While these companies might be making these privacy changes, previous breaches have tainted their reputation in this new, private world.
That’s where privacy-first search engines, like Brave and DuckDuckGo, come in. Although both sites pull in a small fraction of the daily users that Google does, they are experiencing upward growth in 2021. This is as more people turn to these dark knights.
From here, the real question for many digital marketers is: should my company be advertising on privacy-first engines, like Brave and DuckDuckGo? Let’s break this down.
Brave’s Unique Approach: Should you advertise on Brave?
Brave’s advertising strategy is unlike most search engines. Brave’s primary focus is privacy, and it’s designed with the idea of a future without third-party cookies. While its reach is not that of Google’s, Brave has an estimated user base of 30+ million monthly users.
Brave provides advertisers a breakdown of user attributes and demographics in their media kit, along with details of what advertising through Brave looks like. Some attributes that stood out to us were that 75 percent of Brave users consider themselves technology early adopters.
This may not be surprising considering Brave is not exactly mainstream itself. However, it speaks to the brands that thrive with Brave advertising.
Its standout feature is the user opt-in system, allowing Brave searchers to choose if they’d like to view ads. Opting in has its perks. For instance, ad viewers earn Brave rewards through the Attention Token program. This provides tokens based on the user engagement level.
This can be seen two-fold by advertisers. On one hand, viewers could just be clicking on your ad to generate more tokens rather than having actual interest in your product. On the other hand, because users are taking the time to go on your landing page and spend time on your website, they tend to have higher retention of brand recognition compared to Google searchers.
Unlike most search engines, ads on Brave show as push notifications on your laptop or mobile device. This is different than in the search engine results pages (SERPs). This is a unique spin to advertising and positions your brand name in front of consumers as a notification rather than when they’re actively seeking your product or service.
Brands can also assume that because users are entering an opt-in system, they are receptive to advertising. On top of actually wanting to engage with ads. When you compare this to Google, Facebook, or YouTube, where ads are often not sought out or asked for, it’s no wonder Brave has click-through rates four to eight times that of competitors.
Note on Brave’s advertising platform
Brave Ads currently operate as a managed service, with the self-service portal launching later in 2021. To use this managed service, ads would be managed by Brave. There would be a minimum $10,000 USD monthly charge for ad spend and management services.
DuckDuckGo’s Easy Addition: How does it compare to Brave?
Because DuckDuckGo does not track or collect personal information, they show ads based solely on the search query. This means it’s even more vital to get the right keyword targeting and ad copy setup in your ad campaigns.
Example of how an ad is displayed on DuckDuckGo’s privacy-first search engine
Unlike Brave, DuckDuckGo ads will look similar to the ads you see on Google or Microsoft’s SERPs. In fact, they should look nearly identical. To advertise on DuckDuckGo, you simply need to select all search networks on your Microsoft Ads settings. This is because DuckDuckGo is a Microsoft search partner.
This means you control everything through your Microsoft Ads studio. They will be the same keywords and ad copy used on Microsoft Bing and all other partner sites.
While there are considerably less searches on DuckDuckGo than Google and Microsoft Bing, there’s less competition in the advertising space. That means a lower cost per click for your campaign and likely a higher return on ad spend.
All this information is nice, but the question is: should your company look into investing in these privacy-first search engines?
The answer will likely vary based on your business. For example, businesses that are launching new products or cutting-edge technology should keep Brave in mind. Given the early adopter user base and its usefulness for brand awareness with the notification feature.
DuckDuckGo is an easy addition to your advertising strategy if you already have Google Ads, and it’s even easier if you run Microsoft Ads. If trust is an essential factor to your business model (security companies, lawyers, consulting, banking, etc.), then it would likely help your advertising strategy to add these into your digital marketing mix.
If the budget allows, consider testing the waters in these privacy-first search engines by giving a small portion of your advertising budget to start and adjusting as you start to optimize campaigns. However, we’d recommend waiting to start any Brave advertising campaigns until they release the self-serve portal and test Brave ads alongside current PPC campaigns.
At the end of the day, we don’t recommend abandoning Google or Facebook anytime soon, but we do think that it may be worthwhile to test performance in these smaller areas, especially before the competition pool increases.