Today’s online world is dealing with data explosion like never seen before. Right from disparate sources of information gathering and diverse formats of data available, to different ways of cleaning and analyzing the data, together has led to a substantial shift in how we perceive data to power up businesses.
Gone are the days when simple Excel commands would be sufficient to analyze massive chunks of data generated every single second. When so much can happen in a single internet minute, imagine the potential volume of data churned out on a much longer period like a week or month! What’s more, the relentless juggernaut of information flow doesn’t show any signs of slowing down. Intel reports that in 2017, mobile traffic would’ve grown 13x! Imagine the data deluge we will be reeling under.
These facts call for strategic and smart Large Scale data extraction capabilities to help glean valuable insights from this data deluge.
Why is web crawling needed?
We see the below dynamic activity happening in just 60 seconds in 2016
- 3.3 million Facebook posts are added
- 205.6 million emails are sent out
- 55,555 Instagram photos are posted
- 3.1 million Google searches are performed
Now imagine if you are handling the digital marketing for a new car – Datsun Redi-Go in India. You would want to analyze a lot of things –
- What people are talking about this car?
- Which other brands do experts believe are the competitors for this car?
- What price point do customers want it in?
- What details are customers awaiting for this car (expected launch date or color variants)?
- What are the experts’ sentiments around this car?
For this, you will need real-time information on what is being discussed on social media, industry authority forums, or even in the press. You may also want to see what aspects need improvement to propel the chances of a car’s success after launch (for instance, the brand value around Datsun is still very low in India). Both these details can be easily obtained by employing automated web crawls or using Customized Web Scraping services for the target keyword (i.e. “Datsun”, “Go”, and “Redi-Go”).
With Custom data extraction services, various data sources can be inspected by the site crawler or bot to find meaningful instances in unstructured data as well as reviews, posts, and comments on social media and web. You need not wonder about your brand sentiment and perception spanning millions of websites and billions of online users. The Customized Web Scrapers can be programmed to fetch and extract only the data that interests you.
How does web crawling help?
Also known as bots or web spiders, these web crawlers are automated programs or scripts that run on the internet. It scans individual URLs and websites and creates an index of the data it is designed to hunt for. Web Crawling also helps search for exact phrases and limit the places from which the results need to be fetched. So if it’s a retailer who wants to know what price does the iPhone 6s 32GB white retails for, he can get ready information from multiple websites at a single place. As an outcome, he can adjust prices as per the prevalent market rates or lower it a bit, to attract more customers at lower margins. This type of competitive analysis and pricing intelligence wouldn’t have been possible if it had not been for custom data extraction and web scraping.
On the other hand, from the above example, the Datsun car marketer can find out who is saying what about the impending launch of the car. He can assess if the buzz around the new launch is at the desired level, or will he have to tweak his marketing campaign to bring in more excitement around the new car.
Why custom web crawling works better than automated crawling?
Automated crawler programs such as UIPath are great at fetching data. They can scan millions of URLs across the World Wide Web and come up with results that align with your crawling algorithm inputs. However what is interesting to note is that automated crawl results may not provide you the right answers you are looking for, which needs an additional layer of data cleaning, segregation, or normalization. With custom web crawling, your analysis and insights efforts is reduced by a big fraction. This kind of focused web Crawling helps you get quick, clear, and ready answers to various marketing challenges such as competitor analysis, market analysis, customer segmentation, brand perception, and right marketing mix to be employed for better brand visibility.
Some of the ways in which Custom Web Scraping works far better than its automated counterpart include:
Relevance – If we continue with the above example of Datsun Redi-Go, the digital marketer would be flooded with information on different categories such as competitor (Renault Kwid, Maruti Suzuki Alto), segment (entry level hatchback cars), demographics (India), release period (to compare cars releasing in the same period to gauge market saturation), or social media posts (pre-release reviews, comparisons, or expert assessment). If he has to go through the entire World Wide Web with Automated web crawlers, the huge volume of information will prevent him from knowing what to pick and what to leave, in order to do a meaningful analysis of the data that passes through ETL phase. In contrast, by using the Customized Web Scraping expertise from proven technology partners, the digital marketer can get relevant results for faster decision making. This way, he can maintain sanity when doing analysis on a far smaller, yet highly targeted data set.
Management Buy-in – Today’s leadership looks at only one single metric when they utilize third-party services – i.e. how much their earning will bloom when they invest in a third-party solutions provider. More popularly, this is known as Returns on Investment (RoI). We don’t dispute the fact that the initial configuration and setup of the Customized Web Scraping solution will take some time. However in the long run, the solution will continue to reap rich dividends in two ways –
A better time to market – Once the configuration of the Customized Web Scrapers is complete, it will continue running crawls and throw out output that is tailored exclusively to client business needs. Also, all other processes like data cleaning, data integration, data transformation, and data reduction become far speedier than Automated web crawls, even though its takes more time to yield results from the crawling exercise.
Clearer Insights – You can easily figure out the immense clarity that Customized Web Scraping solution provides to the Datsun digital marketer. He has his work cut out because the custom algorithm will get only the most relevant results. He can take this smaller data set achieved in quicker time, and pass it through various stages of data formatting to transform it to structured data ready for BI/Big Data analysis tools. Since the input data is smaller, the analysis tools too will run faster and show clearer insights much quicker. The marketer will simply need to complete the process by running data visualization on this clean and lean data. These two advantages weigh in very heavily with the company’s leadership and they will easily tie it with the immense RoI presented by utilizing custom Large Scale data extraction services.
Better customer relationship management – A plethora of information needs to be available with the sales and marketing team about the customer or lead they will be pitching their offerings to. Instead of spreading itself thin as is the case with automated web crawlers, the customized web scrapers make sure to limit its search and results only to the target demographic and market the client is interested in.
Hence while automated web crawlers may look appealing due to their faster results retrieval, the underlying cause for this advantage will be an issue – i.e. it is faster because it scans every URL on the web rather than validating the URL against pre-defined filters. Filtering the script to suit the specific needs of the client will yield results lower, but post this step, it will continue saving time at every stage of the data extraction, processing, and analysis process.
To sign off
As is obvious, both automated and custom web crawling applications exist in the market because of the various value proposition brought about by each of them. So while a behemoth like Amazon might rely on the automated crawl to scour the entire Internet for their various strategies like pricing intelligence, smaller enterprise-grade data scraping requirement for a majority of the other companies might call for Customized Web Scrapers.
There is no wrong or right when selecting one over the other. However given that 95% of the companies in the world cannot operate on the scale of Amazon, they will be better served with the assistance of a Customized Web Scraping service for their large scale data extraction needs. They simply have to enlist the site-specific data crawling option provided by established names like PromptCloud so that they can get the full value of collecting information from disparate sources within their target segment.
If you are in a quest for more data to power your business, it’s time to talk to us about your requirements.