Brave Launches Google Search Competitor

Brave Search hopes to serve privacy-minded consumers worried about tracking cookies and invasive advertising.

On June 22, 2021, Brave Search entered public beta, meaning that anyone can type in queries on the new search engine and see the results.

Brave Software, which makes the privacy-focused Brave Browser, announced Brave Search earlier this year, noting that the combination of Brave Browser and Brave Search “constitute the industry’s first independent, privacy-preserving alternative to Google Chrome and Google Search.”

Brave also has a strong tech pedigree, including CEO Brendan Eich, who invented JavaScript and co-founded Mozilla, and CTO Brian Bondy, who worked on Firefox and Kahn Academy.

Screenshot of the Brave Search web page.

Brave Search became available as a beta on June 22, 2021.

However, from the perspective of an ecommerce business or an omnichannel retailer, the Brave Search announcement — which will undoubtedly receive lots of media attention — should be understood in context. Here is what we need to remember.

Brave Search in Context

1. Google Search is king. Google’s search engine owned somewhere between 86.6% and 92.2% of the worldwide search engine market at the time of writing, according to Statista and Statcounter, respectively.

The next largest search engine in terms of market share is Microsoft’s Bing, which had about 6.7% of the total market in February 2021, according to Statista.

So when it comes to search engine optimization or pay-per-click search ads, Google is far and away the most important search engine. It must remain the focus for just about every marketer.

2. DuckDuckGo is private, too. Brave Search is not the first privacy-focused search engine. DuckDuckGo is also a general-purpose search engine that aims to serve tech-savvy, privacy-conscious consumers.

In fact, DuckDuckGo has managed to earn more than .one-half of one percent of the total worldwide search engine volume, meaning it handled almost 100 million search queries per day in 2021 to date.

In just the past two years, DuckDuckGo’s share of the U.S. search market has risen from 1.25% to 2.44%.

So while Brave Search may be marketed as a privacy-focused alternative to Google Search, its closest competitor is probably DuckDuckGo since both seek the same target audience and have the same goal.

DuckDuckGo also makes a mobile web browser, making the comparison to Google even closer.

3. Privacy is trending. DuckDuckGo’s growing success and Brave Search’s public beta are both indicators that privacy is trending.

Remember that Apple has made changes to its Identifier for Advertisers, or IDFA. Brave Browser, Apple Safari, Mozilla Firefox, and even Google Chrome are all taking steps to limit or stop tracking cookies. Moreover, the general public is increasingly aware of how ad networks such as Facebook and Google share (a lot) of personal information.

Silicon Valley veteran Jaron Lanier, for example, published a book titled “Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now.” It attacks social media advertising because of how it impacts society. Many of his arguments stem from how those networks use tracking and personal information. Lanier also appeared on the Netflix documentary “The Social Dilemma,” which furthers the argument against tracking and behavior-based advertising.

Again, from the marketer’s perspective, this trend could impact digital advertising. Advertising on Brave Search, if it occurs, will likely be different from Google.

4. Google’s share may be falling. Google’s share of the search engine market appears to have declined over the past decade. The search engine had 90.77% of the available market in January 2010. In February 2021, again, it was 86.6%, according to Statista. Four percentage points over a decade is not a lot. But consider that in July 2019, Google Search accounted for 88.61% of global search volume. Thus it has lost, if you will, two percentage points of market share in just two years.

None of this discounts Google’s position of prominence in search. But coupled with the privacy trend mentioned above and DuckDuckGo’s relative success, there could be room in the market for Brave Search and other entrants.

5. Majority of some consumers. Brave Search users will likely be earlier adopters concerned with privacy. So while Brave Search has essentially no share of the search engine market yet, it could garner a strong following among specific consumer segments.

If, for example, your online store sells penetration testing electronics to system administrators — for simulated cyberattacks — Brave Search might be an excellent marketing choice, assuming it accepts ads.

6. Brave has a cryptocurrency. In 2017, Brave launched a loyalty program for its browser that rewarded users, advertisers, and publishers with the blockchain-based Basic Attention Tokens, or BATs.

The BAT platform tracks user attention and removes intermediaries, such as Facebook and Google, and simplifies the digital advertising model.

In three years since its launch, the BAT platform has not disrupted the advertising market, although it may. Brave could integrate BATs not only into its browser but also its search.

Armando Roggio
Armando Roggio
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