After years of hesitation and lack of understanding, brands are finally starting to appreciate the benefits to collecting or scraping public web data. In fact, it has become a necessary tactic for businesses. Real-time data can provide valuable insights, help you improve your offerings, better understand your customer, and hold a competitive edge in a constantly changing market.
Unfortunately, for many years and still today, public web data collection – or “web scraping” – has had a negative connotation for several organizations. But it’s time to face reality. To maintain a strong foothold in your industry, get the answers you need for your business, and thrive ahead, you must disregard several common myths. Let’s break them together:
#1 – It’s illegal.
The short answer is, no it’s not. If the website is public, or does not require a log-in, it’s legally accessible. This verdict was most recently displayed in the hiQ Labs vs. LinkedIn case, where the Ninth Circuit ruled data scraping to not be unlawful.
Public web scraping is performed by organizations of all sizes globally. It’s used to evaluate internal operations, back up key business decisions, and get a full grasp of the market to pursue new innovations and boost revenues. Of course, as part of this, compliance regulations must play a major role. Businesses (or their public web data collection providers) have guidelines they must follow to remain legal. This entails a strong understanding of what you are and aren’t allowed to collect. And since there is still limited regulation in the industry, companies are mainly held to moral and ethical standards when it comes to legal data collection.
#2 – It hinders your organization.
Contrary to this belief, public web scraping enhances your organization. It offers real-time, precise insights into your competitors and your customers. This could include anything from pricing to shopping habits, as well as crucial trends and innovations that you should take advantage of in the market.
The pandemic sparked a massive shift to a digital economy. Legacy business strategies like undercover shoppers therefore shifted to online data collection. Now, you can receive even greater and more accurate insights while cutting the time and energy required by your organization as much as 80%. You can increase your teams’ time spent on innovation and truly push your business forward. As result, public data collection strongly benefits consumers as well. They receive more appealing or advanced products, obviously better pricing, and greater shopping experiences overall.
#3 – It’s legal, but unethical.
This falls on either the organization or the external web data provider. When accessing public data, they must be professional and act with transparency when sourcing the data. This includes all parties firmly abiding by both global compliance regulations and deeply-rooted ethical guidelines. To put it simply, ethical and legal public web scraping offers the same internet view, insights, and transparency that an individual user has access to – and enjoys.
#4 – The sources are private.
In fact, most of today’s web data is public. According to researchers, as of January 2022, roughly 62.5% of our global population (4.95 billion people) uses the internet. And of the data being created from this significant online use, it’s estimated that nearly 70% is public. Essentially, anything that can be opened via a standard browser without a log in. This is what businesses and providers are accessing through web scraping – and the data set only expands each year as more and more people use the internet globally.
#5 – It makes you untrustworthy.
The final common misconception we’ll walk through is that if you collect web data, then you’re up to no good. In reality, various organizations (from startups to large enterprises) around the world are acquiring, analyzing, and employing it to their day-to-day operations – even as you read this article. In order to succeed in today’s constantly moving and highly competitive business world, companies must receive the full picture by utilizing this massive data resource that is only growing.
The web data industry will continue to expand as more and more market sectors begin to take advantage of its benefits. To survive, and as part of our moral obligation, all participants must remember to act legally and ethically at all times. This is essential.