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Web data gathering: more failure than success?

Image credit: Shutterstock
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Today's businesses rely on data, especially real-time data. Without it, companies have a slim chance to make a mark in their industries. The internet is the best data source for businesses looking to analyze their competitors, their products and services, their methods and processes, their successes and failures, and shared customers. 

As the scale of businesses is ever growing, so is the need to collect a vast amount of data both efficiently and rapidly. Reaching this scale requires three major elements: public data sources, automation, and vast networking solutions (known as proxy networks). Although all three are vital, the latter can make or break any data mining operation.

True value of data

Nowadays, data backs the most valuable business decisions, and almost all profitable business decisions are betting on real-time data. So, whether the information is collected for e-commerce market analysis and price comparison, or marketing lead generation purposes, or any other reason such as SEO monitoring, brand protection, ad verification, to name a few, it is evident that data-driven solutions dictate current and foreseeable business strategies.

Essentially, it does not matter which element of your business gains the most value from data, as the major challenge is to have a robust data gathering solution to keep up with your business’ needs. Regardless of business size, only data will allow you to stay competitive and outsmart your competitors in the long run.

Image credit: Shutterstock

Image credit: Shutterstock

Web data gathering tools and obstacles

As there is no shortage of great public data sources on the web (think public directories for sales leads or e-commerce marketplaces for price analysis), we need to focus on automation, first. Web scraping, also known as data scraping, is a widely used and thriving method among many businesses for extracting data from various internet resources. It is an automated process which involves the use of a software script or a web crawler to capture desirable information for later analysis. 

Most established websites are real data goldmines for a variety of businesses and entrepreneurs. Nevertheless, when it comes to extracting data from these public sources, more often than not there are obstacles to be faced with. Whenever a website receives a significantly larger volume of data requests, it starts to limit access to its data and blocks or slows down the data extraction process. Here is where proxies come in. 

Proxies, in short, allow an automated script to use different IP addresses. These IP addresses are what websites use to identify visitors, thus a web scraper which connects to a site through 1,000 proxies will appear as 1,000 different users to that site. If all of those connections came from a single IP address, any site would block it immediately, because it would look like a denial-of-service (DDoS) attack. By harnessing proxies, businesses and entrepreneurs can successfully gather as much data as they need, and consequently, capture and create opportunities on demand.

Although it seems rather straightforward at first: all you need is a good data source, a web scraping script and a proxy provider to kick start the data hunt. The reality, however, is quite different. 

Proxyway recently published an in-depth market research paper on the global proxy service providers and revealed the real quality, speed and overall performance of proxy provider’s products and services. The report’s performance section findings emphasize just how essential it is to thoroughly check, test, and evaluate every proxy network before starting any data gathering operation. Vetting proxies are essential for every data source, especially the most popular ones. Otherwise, businesses and entrepreneurs might be gathering data that is an order of magnitude worse than what the market has to offer. In some cases, bad proxies will bring back false data, further sabotaging a business.

Success rates for web data gathering exposed

Proxyway’s research team set out to test all major proxy providers in a first market research paper of its kind and discovered that web data gathering has a severe bottleneck. The performance research section examined proxy providers success rates while collecting intelligence from some of the data-wealthiest websites online. The results were surprising, as some established companies could not provide a passable level of access to some of the best data sources.

The report clearly shows that three proxy providers – Oxylabs, Geosurf, and Smartproxy – have the most versatile proxy infrastructure on offer with a highly-respectable 85% average success rate, while half of the providers offer below par proxies to aid data extraction operations. 

Perhaps most unexpectedly, the report found that market share leaders Luminati under performed when it came to the quality of products and services on offer: its network’s success rate fell over 9–11% below that of their top competitors, as well as being relatively slow as to other providers. 

Image credit: Shutterstock

Image credit: Shutterstock

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

All about the data source

Every business must determine the best sources for data to unlock the most valuable insights. For instance, e-commerce companies would benefit from exploring the most prominent online marketplaces for data on pricing intelligence, consumer behavior or trending patterns. According to carried out market research, businesses that are after this kind of data should look into Geosurf, Oxylabs and Storm Proxies proxy providers to achieve the highest data gathering success rates.

Whereas, businesses in the travel industry would benefit from analyzing data from the leading travel and accommodation sites to gather insights on seasonal travel routes, tourist volume or price comparisons. So, when it comes to extracting intelligence from such sites, findings show that Geosurf, Luminati, and Smartproxy should be among the top picks for this particular audience.

Ultimately, search engines are the best data source for digital marketing. Concluded tests discovered that Oxylabs, Smartproxy, and Geosurf would be the most suitable partners to execute successful data extraction operations from the most popular search engines.

The bottom line

The proxy review website’s report reveals not only the strengths and limitations of the test subject’s networks against the most popular data sources but also provides an in-depth review of each proxy provider. Perhaps, most importantly, it allows businesses and entrepreneurs to base their choices on facts and reliable data, as opposed to marketing and advertising material. 

If more businesses would use the most suitable tools for data gathering and analysis, they would not only ensure that their web data gathering is more success than failure but would also directly benefit wider society by offering the best products and services.

Adam Dubois, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Proxyway