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How to start your Data Collection Project

Step-by-step guide to collect data like the experts

Rachel Hollander | Content Marketing Manager
18-Mar-2020
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Are you looking to start your data collection project but don’t know where to begin?

Data collection without proper knowledge can be an intimidating task. Should you conduct it in-house? Find a third party? Should you be using proxies and if so, what proxy type do you need?

This article will break down what to consider while providing solutions to make your data collection project come to fruition.

What data does your business require? What target sites do you need to access? What barriers do you need to overcome to get accurate data? Let’s find out a little about the types of limitations you may across collecting data and the right proxy solution for your needs.

Online Limitations

The target sites a business needs to collect data from is a key indicator of the type of infrastructure required. Many sites use blocking techniques, these techniques include employing geolocation-based restrictions, IP rate limitations, and fingerprinting specifications. The types of blocks used and the sophistication of target sites will determine the type of proxy infrastructure you need.

Geolocation based restrictions:

Sites utilize your IP address to determine where a request is coming from. This information is used by sites to provide relevant pricing and product information. IPs that derive from countries they do not work with can be blocked from entering the site in its entirety and IPs that clearly derive from a competitor may be blocked, or worse, misled and served wrong information such as inflated pricing data. By utilizing the right country or city targeted IPs, this can be easily overcome.

IP rate limitations:

Rate limiting is an anti-bot mechanism used to determine non-human like behavior and block the IP. These measures work by calculating the number of requests made per IP/per minute and block IPs that are sending too many requests too quickly. Connecting your crawler to a pool of rotating proxies allows you to rotate the IP address every X number of requests (the right number depends on your target site) providing an easy way to avoid rate limitations and collect data with speed and accuracy.

Fingerprinting:

Fingerprinting covers a wide range of techniques that take into account every aspect of your device - including the software types installed, languages used, protocol type, screen resolutions, HTTP/TLS protocols and more. Overcoming this particular data collection hurdle begins by taking into account the target sites and the specific fingerprinting techniques they employ. Depending on the types of fingerprinting, a virtual machine, unblocking software or mere trial and error may be the solution. For more information on this more complex group of blocking methods check out this article that dives into everything you need to know on how to overcome fingerprinting.

Most blocking techniques are fairly simple to overcome but for sophisticated target sites it may be necessary to use a third-party to save time and truly guarantee the accurate data you require. Unblocking software types are available but make sure you understand how the company overcomes them and the proxy infrastructure they use.

Start Unblocking Your Target Sites Now

Proxy IP Types and Wanted Data

The type of IPs required for a data collection project is solely based on the data itself and what it will be used for. Let’s break down the most common IP types and the best uses for them.

Data Center IPs:

A data center IP is a machine-generated IP from a data center server or farm. They can have country and/or city targeting and are the most cost-efficient solution for proxy usage. These are great when huge amounts of data are required as they can be charged per IP with a price for unlimited bandwidth or are accessible by connecting to a pool of thousands, that can be continuously rotated, and charged per GB. Some common uses for data center IPs are market research and web data extraction.

Residential IPs:

A residential IP is an IP address owned by an individual who has opted-in to let a proxy network use their IP when it is idle. These IPs have all the characteristics of a normal customer accessing a site. Residential proxies are required for actions where accuracy is of the utmost importance such as verifying ads, travel aggregation and accumulating price comparison information. Real residential IPs are provided in pools and charged per GB allowing for unlimited rotation, an easy solution to rate limitations. The largest provider of residential IPs is Luminati with a network of over 72 million residential proxies in every country and city in the world.

Mobile IPs:

Similar to residential IPs, these are the 3G/4G connections of mobile IP owners that have opted-in to a network. Mobile IPs are required to verify direct billing campaigns and app promotions, they are also of the highest quality as they commonly undermine common blockades due to their proprietary nature and high-resolution targeting abilities. Mobile IPs are also normally provided in pools allowing for continuous rotation and a per GB pricing structure.

If you are unaware of the IP types you require, it may be best to speak with a data extraction expert. The realm of data collection is continuously evolving and that is why, in the hopes of providing a simple solution, the data collection automation platform was introduced.

Data Collection Options

Outsourcing the data required:

Data can be obtained from a third party company that gathers intelligence for clientele. Just provide the data sets, target sites and they will deliver the information required. The downside, however, is that it is likely this same data is being sold to a variety of companies, even competitors.

In-house team and proxy infrastructure:

Another method is to use an in-house data extraction team that sets up a proxy infrastructure, develops crawlers and maintains the constant data collection required. This solution is costly and can be difficult to manage due to the multiple moving parts all needing to work simultaneously while needing to adapt to constant changes on the web.

In-house team using an external proxy network:

A web data extraction team can hire a proxy network allowing them to focus on gathering the needed data instead of expending time and resources on maintaining their proxies. By using an external network they can utilize tools such as the Unblocker, Luminati’s new and powerful unblocking software guaranteeing a 100% success for rate for even the most sophisticated target sites. The Unblocker handles IP rotation as well as cookie and fingerprint management ensuring only the most accurate data available.

Employing a proxy network that provides data collection services:

Many popular proxy networks offer data collection services including a crawler and the proxy infrastructure. This form of Data collection automation, uses multiple network types, IP types and various mechanisms to ensure the most accurate data available.

Data Collection Automation

Understanding the growing need for a simple solution to gather mass amounts of accurate data from across the web the data collection automation tool was produced. Taking into account target websites and their associated blocking techniques, the automation software uses the most advanced proxy infrastructure to overcome common hurdles and guarantee a 100% success rate. This new technology provides users a means of merely sending an API request that contains the information they require and in turn, results are provided in the format and accuracy needed for the most dynamic data collection. Data collection automation experts themselves now offer a cost-effective solution to a growing need.

With data collection growing in popularity for the majority of industries understanding how your business can begin is the first step in guaranteeing a competitive advantage in the coming years. Luminati, the largest proxy network in the world, has a customer base that sends over 150 billion requests each month. With over 150 employees working solely on making data collection easy and accessible to all businesses, the Luminati mission is to offer a more transparent web presence now, and in the years to come.

Speak with a Luminati Expert and let them help you plan your data collection project today