Making Money from Data: How Web Scraping Has Become the Tool of Entrepreneurs
Do you know that data about everything you do online is being collected? Do you know that large companies like Facebook are monetizing that data? As we rely on cloud solutions, web applications, and the internet more and more, it is inevitable that tech companies have started profiling users for commercial purposes.
You’ll be surprised by how much companies like Google and Facebook know about you. A user profile allows advertisers and tech companies to really tailor your online experience based on your past online habits. If you have been searching for holiday destinations occasionally, don’t be surprised to see ads on a specific destination that you have always wanted to visit.
That’s how powerful data can be. Now, you can harness the power – and the commercial value – of data too, and the way to do it is through web scraping.
Getting Started with Web Scraping
Web scraping is basically collecting data from websites – data on public pages, social media sites, e-commerce stores, and other sources – but at a much larger scale than visiting those websites manually. A web scraper can collect data that matches certain parameters too, so you can program your scraping tool to seek only relevant information.
Before you can scrape the web for information, however, you need to set up the web scraping tool. You also need a reliable proxy server to mask your IP address. A residential proxy provider can hide your real IP address behind millions of residential IP addresses, so you don’t have to worry about being banned by websites.
Smartproxy, a leading residential proxy provider, makes setting up a proxy for web scraping easy. Once configured, you only need to define the parameter for scraping and start the process. The next part is making sure that you can process the collected data to generate insights, automate actions, and make money.
Slower Initial Speeds
Residential proxies are perfect for web scraping because the traffic coming from your scraping tool will appear as if it is coming from a home user. When you are scraping for certain data like deals and special offers, this is the best way to do it.
It may take some time for the web scraping tool to get up to speed. This has to do with building concurrent connections and traction for the scraping operations. With a reliable proxy, the slower initial speed is not very noticeable, hence the need for premium proxies.
Once you have reached a certain threshold, however, connecting to websites using residential proxies will be as fast – if not faster – as when you don’t use a proxy. The added safety is also a benefit you don’t want to miss.
Higher Data Access Rate
Pay close attention to the way big companies monetize data and you will notice a trend: they all bank on volume. The more data you have, the more insights you can produce from the data, and the more valuable those insights will be.
A common web scraping operation can have 40 to 100 concurrent tasks running. A bigger operation can extend that number to the thousands. Regardless of the scale, you need a higher data access rate. In other words, you need residential proxies with enough bandwidth to accommodate concurrent operations.
Slower proxies may not affect your data access speed if you are using them for browsing the web or watching Netflix. When you start opening multiple websites at the same time, however, a high data access rate becomes a necessity.
There is also the fact that residential proxies provide anonymity to the scraping tool. You may not have noticed this, but you don’t get the best prices when shopping or booking hotels online because e-commerce sites already know your tendencies from your browsing history. Masking your identity using residential proxies eliminates that profiling and allows you to get new-user, introductory prices, which are always the best on the market.
Of course, you can also use a residential proxy to access region-specific content. On websites like Netflix and Amazon Prime, your location information is used to determine the content that is made available to you. You can only access content for US IP addresses by connecting through residential proxies based in the US. The same is true with deals and special offers that are available only in select regions.
Web Scraping at Scale
We’ve mentioned how a good residential proxy provider has millions of IP addresses that can be utilized. That is a key component to running a web scraping operation at scale. The more sources you want to tap into, the more IP addresses you will need to avoid being flagged. And the more IP addresses you have, the more data you can collect from these sources.
Web scraping at scale, combined with good data processing, allows you to achieve a lot of things. That brings us to the fun part…
Making Money from Web Scraping
There are a lot of ways you can make money using web scraping. The simplest way is using web scraping to find prices from multiple retailers, compare discounts and special offers, and save on every purchase you make online. For items like electronics, you can save more than $1,000 on a single purchase just by timing your purchase correctly.
On the other hand, you can use web scraping to target specific items. This is what has been powering the sneakers reselling trend. Sneakerheads can use residential proxies and sneaker bots to buy sneakers at retail prices, and then resell them for a profit on websites like Goat and eBay. Web scraping becomes a fantastic way to collect price and availability information.
Even professionals use web scraping to gain a competitive advantage. If you are a cryptocurrency or stock trader and you want to understand what the market sentiment is at a particular point, scrape the web – social media and trading forums – for conversations about what most investors will do next. Riding the wave and banking profits are a lot easier with data on your side.
The next time you hear how data is more valuable than oil, you can confirm that it is true. Web scraping allows you to leverage data and make money from it. What an amazing time to be alive!