Ad-Free Search Engine: Is it Really Feasible?
With thousands of privacy breaches happening online throughout the years, one of the possible high-ranking suspects for such unfortunate events is the information advertisers get from Internet users.
But, in the spirit of innovation and a more safe Internet domain for everyone, some developers argue that the answer to these problems lies in three words: ad-free search engine.
Before we delve into the possibility of an ad-free Internet, you should first know why people take out their developer codes and attempt to solve this sneaky powerful tool.
What You Don’t Know About Internet Ads
Did you know up to what extent Internet companies collect data about you? In case you are not aware, they know all the sites you visit, what you buy online, and what demographic as a customer you fit in.
You might ask, why do they do these? That’s violating my privacy! Well, to answer your question, your privacy and data are the “offering” you give on your end in exchange for “free” access to their products, such as Google Suite Apps and social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram.
They knowingly obtain your data in the pretence of making your online and application experience better. But, did you notice that the ads reflect the Google searches you make on the apps you use? These tailored advertisements target you and match what you are looking for, which pays their bills.
The Problem With Internet Ads
Most often, consumers are unaware of the extent of the data collected from them. As a result, they don’t know how exactly these companies use their data, where on the Internet it ends up, or if they protect user data from hackers.
How they handle your data appears to be an important question for the possibility of your data getting hacked and used for more nefarious purposes than advertising is at an all-time high.
In a Washington Post, experts consider Google Chrome as a surveillance tool that works in favour of Google and its data firms. Recently, Facebook also faced charges for its failure to safeguard user data of 30 million users. A popular video platform, Tiktok, also had major privacy concerns and was potentially in the talks to get banned in the United States.
How much of the Internet and its content did we consume made us buy products that targeted us through ads? Which ones are paid for by advertising?
If these companies didn’t have advertising as part of their apps, then they would have less motivation and incentive to collect user data up to such grave lengths. If they do so, how will they make profits? A possible answer is they will most likely charge their users for their services.
What Does Ad-Free Internet Look Like Now?
Of course, Google obviously wouldn’t exist and look like its current form today. If you remove ads completely, the user experience will change dramatically. However, you will still be able to type up internet searches.
In the same way, Facebook and Instagram wouldn’t exist and work as it does now, but you would still be able to contact your friends and family.
Is an internet that grows slower and is more expensive to access acceptable? What about social networking apps? It’s highly unlikely that Google and Facebook will shift and offer completely ad-free models, and it’s almost impossible that they will stop collecting their users’ data.
A version of the Internet that doesn’t capitalize on advertising may be possible through innovative business models, with some benefiting content creators while some benefit companies or the public.
But one thing is for sure. It will change the nature of the Internet, which will take a long time for users worldwide to get used to in their daily lives.
Is it Time For an Ad-free Search Engine with Neeva?
Sridhar Ramaswamy spent 17 years in Google and is the current CEO of Neeva, an ads-free search engine. He believes that ad-supported free products are not beneficial for consumers, not good for countries in the long term, for it is very hard for them to stay true to what the customers want.
According to Ramaswamy, they wanted Neeva to be a product that caters only to customers and is strict about not having ads in it. However, to do so, a subscription search is needed as the only way to create a superior product. Clean business principles of no ads and no affiliate links mean no user data obtained and sold, and privacy is the priority.
Disadvantages of Having No Internet Ads
If companies like Google and Facebook didn’t collect data, they’d be relatively less useful. Your location data helps Google Maps come up with better routes for you. You enjoy using Google Drive and other G-Suite Apps without paying.
Your Amazon searches lessen the time you browse through all the product listings it has. Imagine if you have to put all the necessary information and pay for their services every time.
Arguably, targeted ads may not be effective for some users, and most usually swipe and skip ads. Looking at this possibility, it appears that maybe even from the start, all that data collection is for risky results.
Also, the Internet today as we know it would look completely different without its targeting ads. Giant companies we all know would no longer be recognizable if that will be the case.
So, this begs the question, can we exist in a world where internet ads don’t exist to safeguard our data and privacy? There is a possibility that we can, but it won’t be the same experience anymore.
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