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Iveta Vistorskyte

Dec 18, 2020 9 min read

Online media monitoring helps various businesses find out how their brand is portrayed on the web. The internet is full of useful data, but monitoring and manually gathering publicly available information from many websites daily would take plenty of time, not to mention the number of possible human-errors in repetitive tasks. This is the reason why businesses tend to use online media monitoring platforms.

By gathering publicly available data, companies that provide online media monitoring services can give their clients the required information. However, monitoring and collecting vast amounts of data have complex challenges for professionals as well. Keep reading if you’re interested in the most common issues for online media monitoring, and would like to learn how to improve the online media monitoring process with reliable web scraping solutions. 

What is online media monitoring?

Online media monitoring is the practice of monitoring clients’ topics of interest on various digital media channels. Simply put, companies that offer online media monitoring services use tools that crawl various data sources across the internet, and provide insights from news and review websites, forums, blogs, or social media channels. These tools can get the required publicly available information that customers are interested in.

How does online media monitoring work?

Online media monitoring companies offer their clients specific platforms, where they can enter a required term, for example, a brand’s name, and get all the mentions across the web. Information found on online media can have a commercial or even scientific value.

How can online media monitoring help businesses?

There are several use cases of how online media monitoring can help companies to improve their performance: 

1. Brand monitoring

Companies that offer online media monitoring services are capable of scraping mentions on the internet about the clients’ brands. This can help their customers increase brand awareness because, for example, having this information helps companies find out their online media coverage. This may also help with brand protection.

2. Crisis management

Media monitoring online in real-time helps businesses track their brand mentions, and react to publications that could affect their brand reputation in a timely manner. If there are any negative mentions, they can rapidly prepare a plan of action.

3. Cognition of the audience

Social media monitoring or gathering data from blogs and forums help companies get to know their audience better. Companies that provide online media monitoring services are capable of delivering such publicly available information to their clients.

4. Competition research

Monitoring online media helps businesses get ahead of the competition by following their digital actions. From publicly available data (e.g. SERP data), companies can monitor what is happening in their industry.

There are other use cases, such as market research and hashtag analytics. All of these use cases require online media monitoring platforms that are fast-acting and capable of providing accurate data at scale.

Online media monitoring helps businesses improve their performance
Online media monitoring helps businesses improve their performance

Web scraping for online media monitoring

Online media monitoring companies provide their customers with specific tools that deliver the required data. Of course, these companies don’t have thousands of employees that surf the web 24/7 and provide the necessary information to customers. Online media monitoring companies utilize automated scrapers that gather vast amounts of data in seconds. However, this process isn’t that easy and has many challenges.

Web scraping challenges

Above we explained the prominent use cases of online media monitoring. This information helps us understand the main challenges that online media monitoring companies face.

Scraping different data sources

Online media monitoring companies have to ensure that their tools are capable of dealing with various challenges because they are gathering information from many different websites. Every website has its own structure, security measures, or other features (e.g. dynamic JavaScript websites). However, usually, there isn’t one solution that can deal with all of the issues, so these companies have to test, search and adapt to the best possible option for their work.

Restricted geo-locations

Some information may only be available from specific geo-locations, so keeping track of publicly available data from many websites requires extensive resources. It’s not a secret that in many websites, the same content can look different when accessed from different countries or may not be available at all. Online media monitoring companies have to solve this problem because if they’re providing their services worldwide, their clients are hoping to get all the necessary information regardless of its geo-location.

Gathering real-time information

Online media monitoring companies have to ensure quality real-time data without any errors. If their clients, for example, need to get customer reviews to quickly deal with negative reactions about their brand, products, or services, they have to be sure that they are getting fresh and relevant data. Review monitoring an essential part of successful brand management.

Collecting data at scale

In order to collect data for their clients, online media monitoring companies have to go through many websites and gather vast amounts of data. Their tools must be capable of processing huge amounts of information quickly and efficiently. Otherwise, their clients cannot rely on their services. If you’re interested in this topic, check out another extensive article that covers the main issues of web scraping on a larger scale for e-commerce. Keep in mind that big-scale data acquisition is not limited to e-commerce, so this blog post is beneficial for other industries, too.

Security measures of data sources

This is the most common challenge that online media monitoring companies (to be fair, all companies that engage in web scraping regularly) have to deal with. Usually, websites implement security measures to prevent malicious bots. The issue is that it’s hard to distinguish good bots from bad ones. Therefore, good web scraping bots can be flagged as bad and get blocked. Here are the most common security measures:

  • IP blocks. Web scraping tools send a huge amount of requests to a website to get the required data. If all the requests come from the same IP address, they are not considered as coming from regular users, and, most likely, will be blocked.  
  • CAPTCHAs. It’s a test that often asks users to enter codes or identify objects in pictures. However, most web scraping tools aren’t able to deal with CAPTCHAs and get blocked. Only the most advanced web scraping tools deal with CAPTCHAs.

It’s also worth mentioning that every browser passes specific information to the website’s servers such as OS, language, plugins, hardware, etc. To prevent getting blocked by target websites, web scraping tools have to be capable of passing this information as well. Learn more about browser fingerprinting by reading our other articles.

Being blocked by target websites means that online media monitoring companies aren’t able to provide all the necessary information for their clients.

Web scraping challenges
Online media monitoring companies face various web scraping challenges daily

Web scraping solutions for online media monitoring

Proxies and web scraping

Proxies are crucial for most web scraping projects. Online media monitoring companies usually build their own web scrapers, but without the support of reliable proxies, it’s hard for them to deal with various challenges.

Choosing the right proxy type

There are two main types of proxies:

1. Residential proxies. These proxies have genuine IP addresses provided by ISPs (Internet Service Providers). This is the reason why Residential Proxies have low chances of getting blocked by target websites. Oxylabs Residential Proxy pool has 100M+ residential IPs and covers almost every location around the world. Accessing restricted geo-locations, dealing with IP blocks, and gathering public data from various data sources are some of the best advantages of these proxies. 

2. Datacenter proxies. The main difference between residential and datacenter proxies is their origin. Datacenter proxies aren’t affiliated with ISPs because they originate from secondary corporations like data centers. Compared to residential proxies, Datacenter Proxies have exceptional performance, high uptime, and are faster. However, they are more likely to get blocked by target websites.

Deciding which proxy type is a better choice for online media monitoring companies depends on their needs. We always recommend testing all the possible options to determine which suits the best. To take full advantage of proxies, there is a possibility to use both types.

Using reliable web scraping tools

Due to the complexity of the most popular search engines and websites, internal scrapers are sometimes unable to deliver quality results. In this case, professionals in the web scraping field offer reliable tools to facilitate the data gathering process.

Oxylabs offers Real-Time Crawler, specifically designed for gathering publicly available data from sources like the most popular search engines and websites. Online media monitoring companies can benefit from these features:

  • Perfect for large scale projects. Real-Time Crawler is capable of gathering and processing large amounts of data from various sources. 
  • 100% delivery. This tool extracts data from most websites without getting blocked. 
  • Structured results in JSON format. Structured real-time data makes online media monitoring companies’ jobs easier. 
  • Supported by the largest proxy pool in the market. Real-Time Crawler is capable of accessing geo-restricted data. 
  • Proxy rotation. If necessary, every request sent to a server originates from different IP addresses, meaning less IP blocks and dealing with CAPTCHAs. 
  • JavaScript rendering. Real-Time Crawler manages to render dynamically loaded content on websites.

Real-Time Crawler is highly customizable and requires zero proxy maintenance. This solution is a perfect fit for companies that want to focus on other tasks rather than dealing with web scraping challenges.

How Oxylabs' Real-Time Crawler works?
How Oxylabs’ Real-Time Crawler works

Conclusion

Online media monitoring companies are scraping large amounts of publicly available data daily, and this is the reason why they have to deal with many challenges as well. Reliable proxies or quality data extraction tools help effectively facilitate this process. However, companies that provide online media monitoring services have to test possible options to find what is suitable for them.

If you’re interested in more information about solutions for gathering vast amounts of data effortlessly, contact us by clicking here

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About Iveta Vistorskyte

Iveta Vistorskyte is a Content Manager at Oxylabs. Growing up as a writer and a challenge seeker, she decided to welcome herself to the tech-side, and instantly became interested in this field. When she is not at work, you'll probably find her just chillin' while listening to her favorite music or playing board games with friends.

All information on Oxylabs Blog is provided on an "as is" basis and for informational purposes only. We make no representation and disclaim all liability with respect to your use of any information contained on Oxylabs Blog or any third-party websites that may be linked therein. Before engaging in scraping activities of any kind you should consult your legal advisors and carefully read the particular website's terms of service or receive a scraping license.

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