Nothing motivates the advertising market quite like the search for purpose. Even the search segment, which has always been one of the central points of contact in online marketing, is now reacting to the ever-increasing demand from users for an overriding sense of purpose of the providers. In this edition of SEO News, we take a look at new search engines and why ‘search’ has always had a purpose.

A binary search for meaning with an after-taste

Purpose is the word of the hour. Artificial intelligence and voice search have been all but forgotten again, with meaning and purpose taking their place as the latest marketing vehicles. Now, therefore, a positive contribution to society should also be made in business life. This will come as no surprise to anyone who has been dealing with search engines for a while now.

Google has always wanted to organise the world’s information. Microsoft has made empowering people the mission of its Bing search engine from the very beginning. But even beyond these visions, the issue of search and purpose could not be simpler, because search engines basically have these functions: finding meaning, providing information, reducing fear, and facilitating decisions.

In return, people not only entrust their search bars, microphones and camera lenses with their innermost doubts, fears and worries, but a technologised society also transmits location and transaction data, as well as behaviour and movement patterns to tech companies in the East and West. Although data protection has also been a topic of growing attention in Germany since at least the 1987 census, paradoxically it is becoming an increasingly scarce commodity in the information society.

To put it bluntly, one could say that the digital economy, loaded with great expectations, has so far done no more than collect the personal data of billions of people by the petabyte, only to then market said data to increase the prosperity of a few.  Simply adding up the current sales of the performance advertising top dogs Google and Facebook, advertisers’ exposure to our privacy is worth around US$60 billion a quarter.

As a result, data is increasingly being privatised with private companies profiting from their sale and everyone having to take responsibility for their own protection. For this reason, the US telecommunications giant Verizon has now launched a search engine called Onesearch which, similarly to the privacy search engine DuckDuckGo, which has been established for years, is committed to special measures to protect the privacy of its users.

Meanwhile, we ignore the fact that Verizon’s corporate portfolio also includes Yahoo, the classic data-handling mother of all search engines. Besides ignoring cookies, retargeting and profiling, according to Verizon search queries are transmitted in encrypted form. As a special feature, links to search results that are stored in the browser history, for example, are deleted after an hour, and the personal search result is then no longer visible. It almost goes without saying that the search history is not saved.

While the birth of a new search engine is always a big event, despite all its well-meaning features, Onesearch will probably have already experienced the peak of its use with the press release for its launch. This is because data protection alone is not enough of a purpose for a search engine. Users are not only prepared to hand over their lives in Is and 0s to search companies, but they have learned over the past 20 years that hardly anything makes the symbiosis of humans and technology as immediately tangible as a search engine. We are fascinated by the comprehensive store of knowledge, but also surprised by helpful information about our own neighbourhood. In contrast to social networks, the negative effects of the algorithm economy on society play a secondary role in the universal search. As important as the protection of personal data is in the networked society, Google’s long-term vision of a convenience engine with comprehensively personalised information seems to be a logical response to users’ need for technological meaning.

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