Data is all around us today, in both our personal and professional lives. While some companies use data to enhance their marketing, sales or management. Other businesses have chosen to build their whole businesses around it. Data collection tools like web crawlers or data scraping scripts are just a few of the ways these companies get their data, and, as billions of people connect to the internet, the amount of information they generate only increases. It is certain that we will see more businesses like these appear in the coming years.
Price comparison websites are valuable tools that a lot of us will use at least a few times in our lives. These websites compare data from numerous sources to find out who is able to provide products and services for the lowest price possible. To do this, websites obviously need to access pricing data. This is usually done with a relatively simple script that scrapes the relevant data from retailers.
Some price comparison websites do more than just compare prices. Flight comparison websites are an excellent example of this. When you are looking to book a flight, there are considerations beyond the price of the flight that you need to take into account. Travelers need flights that are available on particular days. They also need to know whether the flight is direct or whether there will be any stopovers.
To the user, this might make a flight comparison website appear to be substantially more complex on a mechanical level than general price comparison websites. However, the principle remains the same and, just like the pricing data, all those other data points are publicly accessible and can be scraped directly from airline websites.
While airlines set their flight schedules well in advance, the details of the flights they operate can change with very little notice. An unexpected problem with one of their planes might end up throwing off the timings of multiple journeys. This makes it important that comparison websites work with up-to-date information.
Even a regularly updated database isn’t going to cut it here. The scraping needs to happen in real-time so users can be certain of the accuracy.
Price comparison websites ultimately benefit the industries they represent - airlines make more money because of flight comparison sites. Even if users are seeking the lowest prices possible. Because of this, most industries actively work with price comparison websites by making data feeds available. These feeds negate the need for the comparison sites to constantly crawl websites for data, enabling them to access it quickly and easily.
Few industries have been as profoundly impacted by the advent of big data as the advertising industry. Data-driven marketing has become the norm as businesses wake up to just how powerful targeted marketing can be. A big part of the reason that social media platforms like Facebook are so attractive to marketers is that they can be used to both gather data about users and to deploy micro-targeted campaigns. These adverts are then shown to users that data suggests will be the most receptive to their message.
There’s a variety of different ways that data can be used by marketers. However, there isn’t a single formula for gathering, analyzing, and deploying data successfully. Most businesses today are collecting a lot of data about their customers, often without even realizing it. Identifying which pieces of data are going to be the most valuable to your marketers and what data points that you are currently missing could be useful are both essential skills for any business that wants to begin implementing a more data-driven approach to marketing.
Data analytics is something that an increasing number of businesses are embracing. It isn’t just marketing strategies that are being designed with data in mind; many businesses are using data analytics to help them form their overall corporate strategies. As a result, there is a growing number of businesses like Chicago-based 4C, which market themselves as both a marketing tech firm and a data science company.
4C’s data platform is now utilized by businesses in a variety of different industries and has enabled many of them to expand their reach and discover new audiences. It provides businesses with access to a vast database of data, as well as the analytical tools that they need to gain insights from it. On the other hand, other firms provide data commercialisation services to analyze data to improve customer experience and define company strategies.
Google quite possibly handles more data than any other business. The big four of the tech industry titans - Google, Amazon, Apple, Facebook - all hold vast amounts of data on just about all of us. In Google’s case, much of the data that they have about us is because most of our online sessions begin with Google. When we want to find something online, most of us will Google it. Google processes about 5.6 billion search queries every day - that’s a lot of data!
From its search engine alone, Google is in a very powerful position with regard to user data. However, Google’s search engine is just one of the many ways that it gathers data about us. As the developer of Android, Google receives a huge amount of data from our mobile devices. Especially as their services are installed on most devices by default.
Of course, Google isn’t collecting this data just for fun. Selling access to their data is a major source of revenue for Google. They are also beginning to produce physical products, including Google Home and prototype self-driving vehicles. That wouldn’t be possible without access to a huge amount of underlying data.
No discussion about data in the modern world is complete without mentioning Facebook. Facebook’s entire business is gathering and selling data. At its heart, Facebook is the most sophisticated advertising platform the world has ever seen. It is able to achieve what it does because of the vast collection of data that it holds. Facebook makes its money by selling access to that platform and the data that underpins it to marketers.
Despite its success, Facebook is also a perfect example of how not to handle your customers’ data. Facebook has gotten into trouble time and time again because third-party app developers are able to access data that Facebook holds and then transfer it away from the platform. This has led to users’ personal data ending up on unsecured servers.
The data industry is huge and growing bigger every day. There are even now data brokers whose entire business revolves around acting as a middleman between data providers and businesses. The businesses above are just a selection of the growing number that are dependent upon data to function.
One other resource to consider for ecommerce is an open-source ecommerce scraper with a tutorial by Best Proxy Providers. This tool can help you gather data needed for ecommerce.