Given that there is a large amount of data generated and shared everyday, it has become the most recent differentiator. These days, data represents the core of business strategies today. Thus, the need to access and analyze a vast amount of data has become increasingly important. Suitable for different applications in this modern world, the usage of a website downloader or web scraping serves the following industries and fields:
- Retail & manufacturing: For competitor price monitoring, to monitor MAP compliance, fetch images and product descriptions, and monitor consumer sentiment.
- Equity & financial research: To aggregate news articles, market data aggregation, extraction of financial statement, and insurance
- Data Science: Real-time analytics, predictive analysis, natural language processing, machine learning training models
- Product marketing & sales: Data-driven marketing, content marketing, lead generation, competitive analysis, SEO monitoring, and reputation monitoring.
Others are risk management, academic, data journalism, non-profit organizations, employment, to mention a few.
Kind of web scrapers
Web scrapers differ from one another depending on the case. But they can be generally considered under 4 categories:
- Self-built: Otherwise called pre-built, this is the type that allows anyone to build their own web scraper. Some advanced programming knowledge is required in this case. However, there are several pre-built web scrapers that one can download and make use of right away. Some of these types come with advanced options like scrape scheduling, JSON exports, to mention a few.
- Browser Extension vs Software: Web scrapers are either browser extensions or computer software. The browser-extensions are programs in the form of apps that can be added to the Firefox or Google Chrome browsers which include messaging extensions, ad blockers, and themes. Generally, extensions are simpler to run and easy to integrate into the browser.
- User Interface (UI): There can be a large variation between the user interface of different web scrapers. Take, for instance, some web scraping tools need a minimal UI and command line to run. Conversely, some web scrapers have a full-fledged user interface (UI) where the website is fully rendered to be used by the user. These types are easier to work with especially for people with little technical know-how.
- Cloud vs Local: This talks about where the web scraper does its actual job. Local web scrapers run on computers with the use of its resources and an internet connection. The implication of this is that if the web scraper of choice has a high RAM or CPU usage, the computer might function slowly. For cloud-based web scrapers, they function on an off-site server provided by the company who invented or developed the scraper. That is, the computer’s resources will be freed up while the scraper runs and collects data. Some of the things that make the best web scraper are user-friendly interface, cloud-based scrapping, active and responsive customer support, among others.
Wintr, Among Others!
In a nutshell, with the prominence gained by the subject in recent times, web scraping has found its application in diverse aspects of nature. As such, organizations and capacities that make the best use of the tool will be miles ahead of others and gain an impressive competitive advantage. The choice of the most appropriate tool suitable for respective applications is, however, ultimately the user’s prerogative.