Cost Of Data Collection: What Are The Factors That Affect It

In addition to leveraging public data by collecting and analyzing it, businesses want to do it in the most cost-effective manner possible. It’s easier to say than do, right?

In this post, we will cover the elements that have the greatest impact on the cost of data collection.

What Influences The Cost Of Data Collection

There are a number of factors that influence the cost of data collection. Let’s examine each of them in-depth.

1. Target Complexity

Some targets typically employ bot-detection techniques to prevent the scraping of their material. The safeguards taken by the targeted sources will determine the technology required to access and retrieve the public data.

Dynamic Targets

The vast majority of websites utilize JavaScript to render their information. This programming language makes a website more interactive and dynamic, but it also presents an obstacle for web scrapers.

During standard web scraping, which does not include executing JavaScript, a scraper sends an HTTP request to a server and receives HTML content in response. In other instances, however, this initial answer may not contain any relevant information, as the site may rely on loading extra data while JavaScript is executed on the browser that has received the initial response.

Running a headless browser is one of the most prevalent techniques to extract data loaded via JavaScript. It demands additional computing resources and upkeep. This, in turn, needs the addition of more servers, especially if large-scale data collection is involved. Lastly, adequate human resources are required to maintain the overall infrastructure.

Server Restrictions

The majority of server restrictions consist of header checks, CAPTCHAs, and IP bans.

Header Check

HTTP headers are one of the first things websites examine when attempting to distinguish between a real user and a scraper. HTTP headers’ primary function is to ease the exchange of request details between the client (web browser) and server (website).

HTTP headers contain information about the client and server involved in the request. For instance, the preferred language (HTTP header Accept-Language), recommendations regarding which compression method should be used to handle the request (HTTP header Accept-Encoding), the browser and operating system (HTTP header User-Agent), etc.

Even while a single header may not be particularly unique because many people use the same browser and operating system version, the combination of all headers and their values is likely to be unique for a certain browser running on a particular machine. This combination of HTTP headers and cookies is referred to as the fingerprint of the client.

If a website believes the header set to be suspicious or deficient in information, it may show an HTML document with fabricated data or block the requester entirely.

Therefore, it is essential to optimize the request’s header and cookie fingerprint information. Thus, the likelihood of becoming clogged during scraping will be drastically reduced.

CAPTCHA

CAPTCHA is an additional validation mechanism used by websites to prevent abuse by malicious bots. At the same time, CAPTCHA is a formidable obstacle for scraping bots that collect public data for study or commercial purposes. If you fail the header check, the targeted servers may respond with CAPTCHA as one of their responses.

CAPTCHAs are available in a variety of formats, however nowadays they rely primarily on image recognition. It complicates matters for scrapers, as they are less adept at visual information processing than humans.

A common sort of CAPTCHA is reCAPTCHA, which consists of a single checkbox you must select to show you are not a robot. The test does not examine the checkmark itself, but rather the path that gets to it, including the mouse motions, making seemingly straightforward actions rather difficult.

The most recent version of reCAPTCHA requires no user intervention. Instead, the test will evaluate a user’s past web page interactions and overall behavior. In most circumstances, the algorithm will be able to distinguish between humans and bots based on these indicators.

Sending the necessary header information, randomizing the user agent, and establishing pauses between requests is the most effective way to prevent triggering CAPTCHA.

IP Blocks

The most extreme precaution web servers can take to prevent suspicious agents from crawling their content is to block their IP addresses. If you fail the CAPTCHA test, it is likely that your IP address will be blocked shortly thereafter.

It is noteworthy that putting in additional effort to avoid an IP block in the first place is preferable to dealing with the repercussions after the fact. To prevent your IP from being banned, you need two things: a wide proxy pool and a legitimate fingerprint. Both are quite resource- and maintenance-intensive, affecting the overall cost of public data collection.

2. Technologies And Tools

It follows from the preceding section that you must design technologies that are ideally customized to your objectives in order to be successful at web scraping and prevent unneeded difficulty.

If you are contemplating developing an in-house scraper, you should evaluate the infrastructure as a whole and allocate resources to maintaining the necessary gear and software. The system could contain the following components:

Proxy Servers

Proxy servers are important for every online scraping session. Depending on the difficulty of the target, you may use Datacenter or Residential Proxies to access and get the necessary content. A well-developed proxy infrastructure is derived from ethical sources, contains a large number of unique IP addresses, supports country- and city-level targeting, proxy rotation, and an infinite number of concurrent sessions, among other things.

Application Programming Interfaces (APIs)

APIs are the intermediaries between different software components that enable bidirectional communication. APIs are an essential component of the digital ecosystem since they enable developers to save time and resources.

Final Thoughts On The Cost Of Data Collection

APIs are being aggressively adopted in numerous IT fields, including web scraping. Scraper APIs are technologies designed for large-scale data scraping operations.

As can be seen, the factors determining the cost of data collection are also the primary technological obstacles scrapers confront. To make the scraping procedure cost-effective, you must employ instruments capable of handling your targets and all anti-scraping methods conceivable. Such public data collection tools as Scraper APIs can be of tremendous use here.

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