Web scraping has become a business essential in the age of data. Online information is a gold mine, which gives the companies that are aware of its benefits a competitive edge. Vast Fortune 500 companies have made their online fortunes in an ongoing invisible but heated data war that plays a significant role in their sales and marketing strategies.
As an illustration, two of the world’s largest retailers Walmart and Amazon, use web scrapers to continually scan their rivals’ platforms and adjust their prices to attract customers. In 2017, Amazon successfully blocked Walmart’s web scrapers from scraping their pages, an action that Walmart did “day.
The blockage on Walmart bots lasted a few weeks, forcing the Arkansas-based retailer to retrieve Amazon benchmarking data from third party sources. This example might make scraping sound like a sinister activity, but it is not.
Large businesses such as Bing or Google scrape web pages for search engine indexing. Journalists and academics also scrape the internet for data sources. However, due to the competitive nature of web scraping, most websites have designed defenses that prevent web scraping. Some of these defenses can be overcome via the use of datacenter proxies that veil IP addresses and provide anonymity during web scraping.
What datacenter proxies are
Datacenter proxies like any proxy server act as intermediaries between your computer and a server network or server. The proxy hides the Internet Protocol signature of your computer for anonymous web browsing. Proxy servers are also very beneficial when users need to access geo-blocked content due to their identity protection features.
Datacenter proxies differ from residential proxies, provided by Internet Service Providers. Datacenter proxies are sold or given away free by cloud-hosted third party providers. Unlike residential proxies, these proxy types do not provide a valid address. They are a combination of numbers that closely resembles an IP address.
Nevertheless, they are also very efficient at hiding an IP address and are more affordable than residential proxies. When web scraping using data center proxies, the website that you are mining data from will only view the signature of the data center rather than your own. To successfully web scrape, you need a rotating pool of private datacenter proxies to minimize IP blocking.
Pros of datacenter proxies
- Datacenter proxies will provide anonymity while web scraping, affordably. These proxies are also easier to access than residential proxies.
- While datacenter proxies do not offer a genuine IP address, they are suitable for web scraping in sites that have little or no ant scraping defenses.
Cons of datacenter proxies
- When datacenter proxies are used in web scraping, a robust security system can quickly identify the datacenter’s IP address and prevent the scraping bit from its activity.
- Public datacenter proxies are often misused for nefarious activity and are therefore easily identifiable by website defenses
- Low-quality datacenter proxies from unregistered providers can make your networks vulnerable to data loss or identity theft
- Some public data center can be very slow due to the sheer amount of traffic on them
Typical applications of web scraping via datacenter proxies
1. Price intelligence
Unlike the past, when brick and mortar stores only had weekly price changes, done by hand on swap labels, today, the terrain is entirely different. Bot driven pricing has become the critical differentiator in the ongoing online price wars between various retailers. The strategy was pioneered by Amazon a decade ago, and today online retailers use it to effect price changes multiple times a day with ease.
There are price intelligence bots in the market that only need rival’s pricing data, inventory levels, and sales forecasts to support a robust competitive price monitoring department. To monitor your competitor’s prices and to ensure that you stay on top of the game, use datacenter proxies to extract prices from their websites to help you come up with well-informed pricing lists.
2. Market research
Marketing strategies are heavily dependent on data. Web scraping can give online marketers the information that they sorely require to make the right marketing calls. Data-driven marketing can make all the difference in the marketing arena.
Marketers can, therefore, use web scraping to gather and analyze data from various websites and social media platforms to create robust content marketing strategies. Besides learning from data on how to create engaging content, marketers can also use the data to generate more marketing leads.
3. SEO monitoring
The knowledge of how the search engines are ranking your website can make a lot of difference in e-commerce profitability. It is crucial, therefore, to effect SEO monitoring using data scraping tools to analyze SEO terms and build actionable intelligence with it.
4. Reputation monitoring
Brand protection has become harder to manage in an online environment where brand identity abuse could occur in different regions of the world. Web scraping through datacenter proxies can help your business to identify product counterfeiting and brand piracy online.
You can also use web scraping to understand customer sentiment by scraping customer reviews and ratings to monitor your brand’s online reputation.
Businesses are becoming very dependent on data for decision-making and competitiveness. Datacenter proxies can be used to web scrape business intelligence data and give you the upper hand in the highly competitive online business arena.