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Ads on Mojeek

You might have noticed that text ads have started appearing on Mojeek. If you are wondering why, or what has changed, let us explain.

  1. Since 2006 Mojeek has been committed to a no tracking policy. That policy is still in place and that commitment is a key influence on all that we do.
  2. We intend to be a search engine company in 2030 and beyond.
  3. The internet has not been broken by ads. It’s been broken by data harvesting and monopolies.

Unlike the Google founders who started off not wanting to do ads, but then relented under financial pressures, we have never been anti-ads. Ads convey information, they can even entertain. They can be a useful economic signal for a buyer and a way for upstarts and smaller brands to get attention and compete.

Ads are not the fundamental problem. The fundamental problem is tracking.

Tracking on the web is now recognised as digital surveillance. Google and Microsoft, with the dominant search engines, are surveillance masters. Their greed to feed hungry AI algorithms with your personal data and expressed intent is rampant. And those algorithms are turned back on you. These algorithms and companies are seeking to optimise engagement and their returns.

Who decided it was OK to track us? After all, when you search, you express intent; and this intent means that relevant ads are possible without tracking.

DuckDuckGo and StartPage, to name just two of many, have shown that ads with privacy can work. They show useful ads based on just search queries and location. But here’s the problem; they still feed data, to Microsoft and Google respectively. And they must accept the search and ad results that they get back from them. You might get privacy, but you are still feeding the beasts.

As an advertiser you would be feeding the beasts too; directly or indirectly. How so? Well, in case you didn’t know, you cannot set-up search ads on DuckDuckGo or Startpage, or for that matter Ecosia, or Qwant... the list goes on. Nope, you have to set-up your ads on either ads.google.com or ads.microsoft.com. Then you better hope or struggle, respectively, that searchers will see you. Until now, for much of the world, there was effectively only two companies offering search ads.

Mojeek is now a third alternative; a third and very different place for putting search ads on a real search engine.

Customers (for a while only a limited and invite-only group) can set-up and run their own ads on Mojeek using our own advertiser web service. Just as our search service is built on an independent tech stack with no dependencies, so too is our ad service stack. Advertiser data is not going, nor leaking anywhere.

Advertising is one of our options for creating a sustainable business; as outlined in this post. We welcome any feedback you may have on this new step for us and you.