Taking on data collection on a large scale is no simple feat. It consists of many time-consuming and complicated activities that you might not have time for. Furthermore, analyzing the data contributes to the complexity even more.
Automating the process is the only way to make the project manageable and effective. And it’s possible with recent advancements in computing solutions.
A web scraper is a reliable tool to aid you with this, and when you use an intelligent web scraper, it’s even better. There is a lot of potential in applying artificial intelligence and machine learning to web scraping.
We will review that, but first, let’s go over each element separately.
Web scraping is simply data extraction, whether it be by a human or a machine. Simply copy-and-pasting stats from your favorite sports web page can be described as web scraping. However, bots can crawl through the same webpage and thousands more at incredible speeds, extracting as much relevant information as you want.
Taking on a big web scraping project means obtaining hundreds of URLs and manually developing the scraping code for each one. Again, it’s just not feasible with so many hours in the day. So, many people don’t mind taking a back seat in the process. In fact, web scraping with bots is so commonplace; it accounts for more than half of internet traffic.
Keep in mind — there is some stigma surrounding AI web scraping. The legality or ethics of it will always be up for debate, with some people believing AI web scraping is essentially “hacking”.
As web scraping has become more popular and much more of a hot topic, many high-ticket websites have begun installing anti-scraping technologies to block AI bots. Other websites may use “honeypot traps” to detect AI bots and deliver false information to them.
Top Web Scraping Tools
The following popular web scraping tools are a combination of free and paid options:
- ScrapeHero Cloud
- Data Scraper (Chrome Extension)
- Scraper (Chrome Extension)
- Visual Web Ripper
- Web Scraper (Chrome Extension)
- Web Harvey
- Apify SDK
- Content Grabber
Many of these technologies are easy to use and are constantly maturing to be more user-friendly and innovative. However, it requires careful attention when choosing the right tool, language, and program for you.
Many people use machine learning synonymously with artificial intelligence. They’re not that different from each other but they’re not the same thing, either.
Machine learning is a type of AI, which enables a system to learn from data. All machine learning algorithms need to be trained with data. The more data you feed it, the more it learns and provides you with valuable insight into hidden patterns and anomalies.
More and more businesses are beginning to use machine learning because it can help them understand subtle changes in customer preferences, behavior, or satisfaction that they could probably not know any other way.
Not to mention, it is possible to use machine learning algorithms and models to predict outcomes, which can help business leaders make informed decisions.
With machine learning, you teach a machine to perform a specific task. But AI is the teacher and does the teaching (as long as it’s provided some rules and training).
After that, it’s off to the races and can create its own sets of rules and fill in the gaps–just as a human would do. Pretty smart, right? Of course, AI doesn’t always get it right, but neither do humans!
Some of the biggest and most successful companies–such as Salesforce, Microsoft, Amazon, Google, and IBM–use AI technology to grow profits and get ahead of the competition. AI is especially helpful in the e-commerce and travel industries. Let’s dive into two specific examples.
There are many examples of course, from Customer Service to Human Resources, but these two are particularly interesting.
E-commerce is booming, and there is a lot of competition. AI is the best tool to help you launch your new business, deploy code for an app, and more.
One of the major concerns for any CEO of an e-commerce business is being able to offer competitive prices. With an AI web scraper, you are able to pricing across multiple competitor sites and, of course, gather them for analysis.
With a web scraper, you can also find out if distributors are selling their products at pre-established prices and make sure that products are sold at an appropriate rate or price point. You don’t want your brand image to be tainted because of price competition!
Additionally, if there is a new product launch, you’ll want to use an AI web scraper to do a sentiment analysis or opinion mining to get a feel of how people are responding to what you’re putting out.
AI web scrapers can help the travel industry in many of the same ways it helps the e-commerce industry. First, of course, those looking to go on vacation choose offerings based on pricing, so it’s important to know what prices your competitors offer. This is definitely easier with a web scraper.
On top of that, with an AI web scraper, you can gather more than just prices. You can find out information about various resorts, such as the square footage, number of rooms, and more. You can even collect and review customer reviews to identify problems and create strategies to enhance customer loyalty.
In conclusion, people have known about machine learning and big data–or AI data–for a little while, but we are just now seeing it put into action, and it’s a beautiful and disruptive thing.
A web scraper-and furthermore, an intelligent scraper–is an invaluable competitive advantage (if you can harness it correctly) and very trendy with businesses going online. Not only does it save you working hours so you can spend more time on value-driven tasks, AI web scraping is surprisingly accurate. Some believe it is even more accurate than human scrapers!