Optimal Matchmaking Strategy in Two-sided Marketplaces
65 Pages Posted: 8 Mar 2020 Last revised: 20 Jul 2021
Date Written: June 4, 2021
Online platforms that match customers with suitable service providers utilize a wide variety of matchmaking strategies: some create a searchable directory of one side of the market (i.e., Airbnb, Google Local Services); some allow both sides of the market to search and initiate contact (i.e., Care.com, Upwork); others implement centralized matching (i.e., Amazon Home Services, TaskRabbit). This paper compares these strategies in terms of their efficiency of matchmaking, as proxied by the amount of communication needed to facilitate a good market outcome. We find that the relative performance of these strategies is driven by whether the preferences of agents on each side of the market is easy to describe or satisfy. ``Easy to describe'' means that the preferences can be readily captured in a short questionnaire, and ``easy to satisfy'' means that an agent has high preferences for many potential partners. For markets with suitable characteristics, each of the above matchmaking strategies can provide near-optimal performance guarantees according to an analysis based on information theory. The analysis provides prescriptive insights for online platforms.
Keywords: market design, online platforms, two-sided matching, communication complexity
JEL Classification: D47, D83, C78
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation