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How Does Google Make Money? The Best Guide on Revenue Breakdown

How Does Google Make Money

From a mere search engine to a technology juggernaut, the evolution of Google has been nothing short of impressive. 

It was established in 1998 in a garage by two Stanford students, Larry Page and Sergey Brin. 

Today, Google’s parent company, Alphabet, is one of the most valuable corporations globally, its massive success credited to its diverse revenue streams. 

But, do you know how does Google make money? What are its revenue streams?

Well, it’s important to elucidate how Google—the kingpin of the digital arena—turns data into dollars, because it helps us understand the modern digital economy’s inner workings and future trends.

How Does Google Make Money? (The Revenue Streams Explained)

The colossal growth of Google is based on a multifaceted business model. Breaking it down, the lion’s share of Google’s income comes from online advertising. 

Per Alphabet’s 2020 annual report, advertising revenue accounted for around 81% of its overall earnings – that’s close to $147.0 billion. 

However, Google is not a one-trick pony. The tech titan stretches its income sources to other areas, encompassing cloud computing, consumer tech products, and software distribution platforms.


Demystifying Google Ads

Google Ads is the primary cash cow for Google. Essentially it’s an online advertising platform where advertisers pay to display advertisements, services, product listings, and video content on the Google ad network and generate revenue based on user interactions – a system known as Pay-Per-Click (PPC). 

Google Ads comprise search advertisements (those relatable ad links you notice above your search results), display advertisements, video advertisements, and app advertisements.

The incredible power of Google Ads is derived from the vastness of Google’s networks, coupled with its intelligent targeting, making it a go-to choice for many businesses. This results in substantial revenue for Google. 

The diversity of advertising formats, coupled with the sheer scale of Google’s digital reach, ensures a consistent stream of advertising money flowing to Google’s coffers.

Unfolding Google Cloud

Not lagging in the cloud race, Google Cloud Platform (GCP) has become a significant player, offering a suite of cloud computing services that competes directly with the likes of Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft’s Azure. 

GCP comprises various services—ranging from data analytics and machine learning to secure storage solutions.

Despite a late entry into the cloud market, Google Cloud brought in over $13 billion in 2020, marking an impressive 46% increase from the previous year. 

While it may not currently match the revenue from advertising, its rapidly growing market share and commitment to innovation suggest a promising future for Google’s cloud operations.

Google’s Hardware Ventures

Delving into the physical sphere, Google has dipped its toes into consumer hardware products that include the Pixel smartphones, Google Nest smart home devices, and the Chromebook, among others. 

While these products may not always top their respective markets, there’s more to Google’s hardware ventures than meets the eye. 

These devices aim to integrate Google’s services deeper into consumers’ lives, ensuring a constant flow of data—fuel for Google’s principal advertising business.

Hardware sales may not contribute massively to Google’s revenues in quantitative comparison. 

However, according to the 2020 Annual Report, Google’s “Google Other” category (which includes hardware as well as Play Store revenues) contributed around $21 billion earnings. So it’s clear that the segment’s contribution is far from negligible.

Unveiling Other Revenue Avenues

Apart from the significant revenue contributors, Google has multiple smaller but significant streams contributing to its earnings mix. Google Play, the official app store for Android, plays a substantial role. 

With billions of app downloads each year, Google generates income through app purchases, in-app transactions, and subscription services.

YouTube also enriches Google’s revenue landscape. Apart from ad revenues, the platform generates income through partnerships, premium ad-free subscriptions, and YouTube TV services.

Alphabet Inc.: Beyond Google

While Google is without a doubt the crown jewel in Alphabet’s portfolio, the parent company plays host to a range of other entities, commonly referred to as ‘Other Bets.’ 

These audacious projects might not contribute largely to Alphabet’s revenue stream just yet, but they indicate Alphabet’s willingness to explore, innovate, and potentially disrupt industries beyond digital advertising.


Waymo, Alphabet’s self-driving car subsidiary, was first established as Google’s pet project for autonomous vehicles before becoming a standalone entity in 2016. 

Waymo boasts an advanced suite of hardware and software self-driving technology. It is testing autonomous cars in several U.S. states. 

With the potential to revolutionize the transportation industry, Waymo could yield substantial financial returns in the coming years. 

Currently, they have ride-hailing service Waymo One in Phoenix, Arizona, and car-hailing service Waymo Via for goods transportation – demonstrating the practical application of the technology and its revenue-generating potential.

revenue stream


Loon aimed to provide internet access to remote and rural areas through high-altitude balloons acting as aerial wireless networks. Unfortunately, Alphabet had to wind down Loon in 2021 due to unsustainable business operations. 

However, its mention is important for a comprehensive overview of Alphabet’s ventures and demonstrates the company’s readiness to push boundaries and take risks, albeit sometimes without success.


Verily Life Sciences, initially known as Google Life Sciences, leverages technology to better understand health and prevent, detect, and manage diseases. 

Verily works on multiple fronts, such as COVID-19 testing and community-based interventions. 

It’s engaged in several partnerships and collaborative efforts with healthcare organizations to explore new grounds in personalized healthcare, chronic condition management, etc. 

While Verily currently operates in a fluid, fast-evolving market, it has the potential to contribute significantly to Alphabet’s earnings given the booming technology in healthcare.

These ventures further underscore Alphabet’s innovative spirit and its ambitions beyond Google. The company isn’t afraid to take financial risks in pursuit of disrupting traditional industries with its tech-laden influence. 

While they currently contribute marginally to Alphabet’s revenues compared to Google, the growth potential they possess might drive a significant chunk of Alphabet’s future earnings.

Each of these subsidiary companies, while unique in its pursuits, aligns with Alphabet’s broader goal – finding technology-based solutions to life’s complex problems. 

Whether they evolve into high revenue-generating entities or serve as stepping stones in Alphabet’s journey towards pioneering innovation depends on how they navigate their respective market landscapes. 

What they do guarantee, though, is Alphabet’s unwavering commitment to innovation, research, and development.


In a nutshell, Google’s ingenuity lies not just in its technological prowess but also in its ability to monetize services effectively. 

A glance at Google’s multi-dimensional revenue model gives testimony to its evolution from a simple search engine to an internet behemoth with a diversified and successful business model.

Even with its overwhelming success, Google is not resting on its laurels. It continues to explore new domains, enhance its existing products, and find novel ways to generate revenue. 

Wherever the future leads, observers will watch with keen interest as one of the world’s most powerful tech leaders continues to shape the global digital landscape.