How To Start Your Data Collection Project
Are you looking to start your own automated data collection project but don’t know where to begin?
Data collection, without proper knowledge, can be an intimidating task. Should you conduct it in-house? Where to find a third party? Should you be using proxies? If so, what type of proxy do you need?
This article will break down what to consider while providing solutions to make your data collection project come to fruition.
What data does your business require? What target sites do you need to access? What barriers do you need to overcome to get accurate data? Let’s find out a little about the types of limitations you may come across when collecting data and the right proxy solution for your needs.
The target sites a business needs to collect data from are a key indicator of the type of infrastructure required. Many sites use blocking techniques. These techniques include employing geolocation-based restrictions, IP rate limitations, and fingerprinting specifications. The types of blocks used and the sophistication of target sites will determine the type of proxy infrastructure you need.
Geolocation based restrictions:
Sites utilize your IP address to determine where a request is coming from. This information is used by sites to provide relevant pricing and product information. IPs that derive from countries they do not work with can be blocked from entering the site in its entirety, and IPs that clearly derive from a competitor may be blocked, or worse, misled and served wrong information such as inflated pricing data. By utilizing the right country or city targeted IPs, this can be easily overcome.
IP rate limitations:
Rate limiting is an anti-bot mechanism used to determine non-human like behavior and block the IP. These measures work by calculating the number of requests made per IP/per minute and blocking IPs that are sending too many requests too quickly. Connecting your crawler to a pool of rotating proxies allows you to rotate the IP address every X number of requests (the right number depends on your target site), providing an easy way to avoid rate limitations and collect data with speed and accuracy.
Fingerprinting covers a wide range of techniques that take into account every aspect of your device, including the software types installed, languages used, protocol type, screen resolutions, HTTP/TLS protocols, and more. Overcoming this particular data collection hurdle begins by taking into account the target sites and the specific fingerprinting techniques they employ. Depending on the type of fingerprinting, a virtual machine, unlocking software, or mere trial and error may be the solution. For more information on this more complex group of blocking methods, check out this article that dives into everything you need to know about how to overcome fingerprinting.
Most blocking techniques are fairly simple to overcome, but for sophisticated target sites, it may be necessary to use a third-party to save time and truly guarantee the accurate data you require. Unlocking software types are available, but make sure you understand how the company overcomes them and the proxy infrastructure they use.
Proxy IP Types and Wanted Data
The type of IPs required for an automated data collection project is solely based on the data itself and what it will be used for. Let’s break down the most common IP types and the best uses for them.
Data center IPs:
A data center IP is a machine-generated IP from a data center server or farm. They can have country and/or city targeting and are the most cost-efficient solution for proxy usage. These are great when huge amounts of data are required, as they can be charged per IP with a price for unlimited bandwidth or are accessible by connecting to a pool of thousands that can be continuously rotated and charged per GB. Some common uses for data center IPs are market research and web data extraction.
A residential IP is an IP address owned by an individual who has opted-in to let a proxy network use their IP address when their device has available resources. These IPs have all the characteristics of a normal customer accessing a site. Residential proxies are required for actions where accuracy is of the utmost importance, such as verifying ads, travel aggregation and accumulating price comparison information. Real residential IPs are provided in pools and charged per GB, allowing for unlimited rotation and an easy solution to rate limitations. The largest provider of residential IPs is Bright Data, with a network of over 72 million residential proxies in every country and city in the world.
Similar to residential IPs, these are the 3G/4G connections of mobile IP owners that have opted-in to a network. Mobile IPs are required to verify direct billing campaigns and app promotions. They are also of the highest quality as they commonly undermine common blockades due to their proprietary nature and high-resolution targeting abilities. Mobile IPs are also normally provided in pools, allowing for continuous rotation and a per GB pricing structure.
If you are unaware of the IP types you require, it may be best to speak with a data extraction expert. The realm of automated data collection is continuously evolving, and that is why, in the hopes of providing a simple solution, the Data Collector platform was introduced.
Data Collection Options
Outsourcing the data required:
Data can be obtained from a third party company that gathers intelligence for clientele. Just provide the data sets, target sites and they will deliver the information required. The downside, however, is that it is likely this same data is being sold to a variety of companies, even competitors.
In-house team and proxy infrastructure:
Another method is to use an in-house data extraction team that sets up a proxy infrastructure, develops crawlers and maintains the constant data collection required. This solution is costly and can be difficult to manage due to the multiple moving parts all needing to work simultaneously while needing to adapt to constant changes on the web.
In-house team using an external proxy network:
A web data extraction team can hire a proxy network, allowing them to focus on gathering the needed data instead of expending time and resources on maintaining their proxies. By using an external network they can utilize tools such as the Web Unlocker, Bright Data’s new and powerful unlocking software guaranteeing a 100% success for rate for even the most sophisticated target sites. The Web Unlocker handles IP rotation as well as cookie and fingerprint management ensuring only the most accurate data available.
Employing a proxy network that provides data collection services:
Many popular proxy networks offer data collection services, including a crawler and the proxy infrastructure. This form of Data Collector, uses multiple network types, IP types, and various mechanisms to ensure the most accurate data available.
Understanding the growing need for a simple solution to gather mass amounts of accurate data from across the web, the data collection automation tool was produced. Taking into account target websites and their associated blocking techniques, the automation software uses the most advanced proxy infrastructure to overcome common hurdles and guarantee a 100% success rate. This new technology provides users a means of merely sending an API request that contains the information they require, and in turn, results are provided in the format and accuracy needed for the most dynamic data collection. Data Collector experts themselves now offer a cost-effective solution to a growing need.
With data collection growing in popularity for the majority of industries, understanding how your business can begin is the first step in guaranteeing a competitive advantage in the coming years. Bright Data, the largest proxy network in the world, has a customer base that sends over 150 billion requests each month. With over 150 employees working solely on making data collection easy and accessible to all businesses, the Bright Data mission is to offer a more transparent web presence now and in the years to come.