Data are essential resources for the proper development of a company. They allow you to better understand your customers, analyze the strategies of your competitors, decipher a market, etc. Some information must be collected directly from web pages. To do this, companies are arming themselves with tools for web scraping, like Bright Data’s Data Collector. Back on this technique used in many sectors and on the functionalities of the solution.
Web scraping, what is it?
There are several types of data scraping: screen scrapingwhich consists of extracting data from a screen, report mining, which involves extracting data from a report in a text file and, the most popular, web scraping.
As its name suggests, this technique makes it possible to extract data from web pages. This is done through a program, automatic software or another site. There are two methods:
- manual web scraping, which involves copying and pasting information manually to build a database. This is a long and tedious job, which is why this process is rather used to collect a small amount of information;
- automatic web scraping, which consists of using a tool like that of Bright Data, capable of exploring several websites at the same time in order to collect and extract the desired data.
Regardless of the method chosen, a web scraping program always revolves around three key steps:
- fetching, i.e. downloading a page for analysis;
- parsing, which aims to extract the desired data from the downloaded pages. Selectors like CSS or XPath are used to select a specific element of HTML code;
- storage, a stage during which the information is structured, exported and stored in a database or a key-value table.
Web scraping can be used for several reasons, such as prospecting. Marketers often scrape sites like LinkedIn in order to get additional information about certain profiles. This technique is also useful for retrieving commercial information about competitors, such as the listing of products offered.
Templates to speed up the web scraping process
To make it easier for users to scrape pages, Bright Data has come up with Data Collector. The tool is built on its infrastructure of anti-blocking proxies. It is able to instantly extract information from any public website. Data can be retrieved in batches or in real time.
To help users save time in the process, Bright Data offers ready-to-use templates. There are some for several websites: Amazon, Crunchbase, Wikipedia… Several are available for scraping data on social networks.
The information is retrieved automatically. It is possible to set up a daily or weekly update of these.
The tool performs transparent data structuring. To do this, artificial intelligence algorithms are used. They clean, process and synthesize unstructured information from sites before delivery. This allows to have datasets ready to be analyzed.
Problem: Page structures keep changing on websites. This greatly complicates data extraction. However, the Bright Data tool quickly adapts to structural changes. In this way, the data is always available and usable.
On the integration side, Bright Data has an API. It can be connected to all major storage platforms. You can then enjoy a streamlined and smooth data collection process.
It is important to point out that the tool is fully compliant with data protection regulations, including GDPR.
A four-step operation
Using Data Collector does not require you to be an expert in coding or web scraping. To use it, just follow a few steps.
The first is to choose a model from those offered by Bright Data. It must be chosen according to the site on which you want to scrap data: leboncoin, eBay, TikTok… A library of templates is available.
If you can’t find the one you need, you can create your own. The tool offers several features to quickly design your web scraper, such as HTML analysis or predefined tools for GraphQL APIs.
Once your model is ready, comes an essential step to ensure you receive structured and complete information: data validation. You have to define how you want to receive them: in batches, or in real time. It entirely depends on your needs.
You must then choose the format in which you prefer to retrieve the information collected. Bright Data offers several: JSON, CSV, Excel, XLSX or HTML.
Finally, you need to select a recovery mode. You can have your data delivered to the most common storage platforms: API, Amazon S3, Webhook, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud PubSub and SFTP. Receiving them by e-mail is also a possibility.
Many use cases
Data Collector can be used in several scenarios, starting with e-commerce. The tool can be used to follow the evolution of consumer demands, identify the next big trends and be alerted when new brands arrive on the market. This therefore makes it possible to anticipate the major dynamics of the sector and to monitor competition using data.
Marketers and communicators will also find their account. It is possible to extract data from publications on social networks, such as “Likes”, media or even hashtags. Each comment can be analyzed to better understand consumer opinion. Ultimately, this helps create more effective campaigns.
A web scraper can also be useful for companies working in B2B. The data collected will make it possible to identify prospects to contact and to have relevant information about them, such as an e-mail or a telephone number. Human resources departments can also use a tool of this type to analyze staff movements in a company or even hiring patterns. As you will have understood, all departments of a company can benefit from it.
For their part, tourism professionals can use a web scraper to find new offers and promotions launched by your competitors and compare their prices. There are similar advantages for real estate agents, who have the possibility of examining the prices of properties or even of locating the houses or apartments whose rents are the highest.
Bright Data’s Data Collector therefore has multiple functionalities for extracting information in an automated way, analyzing it and structuring it. On the price side, an offer allowing you to pay as and when requests are proposed. Formulas based on the number of pages analyzed are available from 500 euros per month.