Would you pay for an advertisement-free search engine?
A handful of search engines dominate the market. There is Google Search, which dominates in most regions, Microsoft's Bing, Baidu and Yandex.
Core functionality is shared among the search engines. You may run searches, use some filters, or browse only specific content type results. All these search engines have in common that they generate revenue through advertisement.
Privacy-focused search engines started to gain popularity in the wake of 9/11 and the Snowden revelations. Search engines like DuckDuckGo or Startpage appeared, promising no user tracking and less advertisement. These search engines use the indexes of the main search engines, e.g., Startpage is using Google's index and DuckDuckGo Bing's.
Only a handful of search engines use their own index, with the European Qwant search engine being one of them.
Now, it appears, that another type of search engine is gaining in popularity. Search engines that are not free, but require a monthly subscription. While that does not sound like a good deal at all on first glance, considering that all other search engines are free to use, using these search engines has its benefits as well.
Search engines like Neeva or Kagi promise to do things differently. These search engines earn revenue through subscriptions and not through advertisement. In fact, search results are advertisement free.
As a result, search results pages show only search results and no advertisement. Neeva claims that 40% of results are filled with ads on major search engines.
Both services mentioned offer a free plan. Kagi specifies that it limits searches to 50 per month. Neeva has no such strict limit, and the company informed us that the average user would not run into any limit issues. These limits are removed for paying customers.
Kagi and Neeva support additional features that users may find useful. Kagi, for example, supports changing the weight of individual websites in search, the display of discussions or listicles in relevant results, focused searches through the lenses features, or website information that includes the use of ads or trackers in the search results.
Neeva comes with a set of features as well, including search result customizations, and options to prioritize news sources and retailers over others.
The omittance of advertisement comes at a cost: Neeva Premium is available for $4.95 per month ($4.16 if paid annually), Kagi for $10 per month.
Neeva uses data from various sources, including Microsoft Bing, and its own search crawler and indexer to populate its results. Kagi sources data from Google, Bing and others.
Would you pay for ad-free search engines?
Search engines that are not financed through advertising offer several benefits over the ad-powered competition. Search results focus on content, while search engines like Google have added more and more ads to the search results. Sometimes, everything that users see when they run searches on Google are advertisements above the fold.
Commercial search engines finance operations through subscriptions. The question is: how many Internet users are prepared to pay a monthly fee to get ad-free searches?
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