The search engine’s role is to ensure that each of the customer groups adds value to all the other groups. In particular, it ensures that the presence of advertiser’s curated content adds value to its searcher user, and that the sorting and identification of the searcher user provides value to the advertiser and other content providers.

Customers – Who They Are
There are multiple groups of customers: advertisers, independent content providers (such as Wikipedia), and searcher-users. Unlike the case of the magazine, the search engine does not own the content, rather it is all from third parties – independent providers and advertisers.

Engagement – Value Creation Proposition
For the advertisers, the digital platform curates their advertising content, perhaps encouraging the way they promote their offer to make it more attractive to the user, and by sifting and connecting potential customers for the advertiser. And for the search-user, the platform provides curated content – some from advertisers and some from other independent suppliers, that is sorted according to algorithms that anticipate what the searcher wants to find, in an optimal manner. And the searcher gets free searchers because the advertisers pay for the costs and profit of the platform infrastructure.

Learn more about the Multi-sided Business Model

You identify two or more different customer groups; and after interacting with each you design and deliver your goods or services in a manner that connects the two parties.

Delivery –  Value Chain
One of the key inputs to the search engine is the editorial content produced by the advertiser and the other independent content providers enhanced by the software programmes of the platform. Users typically produce no content, but their searching provides valuable data that the platform uses to optimize their experience, and these data maybe monetized in other situations (depending on local data laws and privacy permissions). A key input of search engine is its web-crawling capability, the database it holds for billions of website entries, and the data it holds on searchers that enable it to make optimal matches speedily.

Monetization – Value Capture
The search user can search for free, with an implied cost of giving up information about the searcher’s preferences (and sometimes other data as well, such as location etc.). The advertiser typically pays for the chance that their offer will be more highly ranked and more frequently chosen.