Scraping vs API – what is it and why you should know the difference
Nowadays, every technological company uses data. Sometimes it is to achieve goals; sometimes, it is to do market research. Data is everything.
There are some terms behind all this that might sound very complicated, but we think it is of utmost importance you learn them and know what they mean.
The terms are “scraping” and “API.”
With all the data you’ve obtained, if it’s through web scraping or using an API, you can create beneficial insights. Data is crucial for businesses. That’s why it’s essential to choose the right tools and methods to gain any data from websites.
Nowadays, getting data using an API is increasingly gaining popularity because of its advantages.
What is scraping?
It is a method of collecting and storing data that is publicly available online, without the consent of people whose data is collected, in very simple terms. In the case of influencer marketing, many platforms offer you data on creators and influencers, such as the number of followers, average engagement, and location. This method also uses mostly “guessing” to estimate certain data such as audience demographics. Without API connections, which we’ll explain later, there is no way to provide correct and detailed data and insights.
Scraping tools and platforms collect this data and present it to you in a clear and detailed overview. This saves you a lot of time from doing manual search and data collection, and the need to create endless spreadsheets.
The issue here is that most people do not even know platforms are collecting their data. Many influencer marketing platforms provide brands and agencies with data on creators, which they then use to contact and set up collaborations with those creators. But without the creator even knowing their data is collected and provided to third parties, it raises the question if this practice is ethical and even beneficial in the long run.
What is an API connection?
API connection is a direct connection between the platform from which you want data and the tool or platform that will present you with this data.
Influo uses API connections to present you with insights and data from creators, for example, Instagram profiles. Creators themselves directly connect their Instagram account to Influo, after which we collect this data and present it to you on our platform.
This means the creators allow their data to be collected and shared. This reduces the issue of ethical malpractices and ensures all data is treated safely.
Why businesses use an API
After mentioning that businesses widely used web scraping, you might be wondering why others still prefer to use an API. When companies are always looking for the same profiles, the same data from the same source, and for the same goal – an API is the best option.
Compared to web scraping, working with an API gives you more accurate, up-to-date information, while web scraping sometimes lacks some details and correctness.
Besides, nowadays, the market is changing in many ways. Privacy policies are getting stricter and stricter. And everyone is holding back in giving their data away for no reason. Again here, working with an API allows you to – let’s say – sign an agreement – to access data. In this case, you don’t have to worry about breaking laws or doing unethical research.
Advantages of API
Using an API provides you several advantages:
- Specific and unique data
- When using web scrapers, you access data that is publicly available. Other competitors can see the same data. When using an API, you access data that is privileged to you and all the others who “signed” the agreement, making the data more specific and unique. Some data is not publicly available, and API allows you to access it, for example, impressions on a creator’s Instagram Story.
- Protection against unethical practices
- Using web scrapers allows you to access any public data and sell it to other companies. This can lead to theft of intellectual property and using it for purposes outside the site owner’s control. An API protects you all against these kinds of unethical practices.
- Data is accurate and up-to-date
- Using an API allows you to access data that isn’t publicly available for everyone. The person or company in question has to accept this. Since you “ask” for it, the person or company gives you the amount of information you’d need.
- You get all the data in no time
- Web scraping allows you to extract data from all kinds of websites, which could take some time. Especially when you need data from several pages; on the other hand, using an API gives you direct access to the data you’d need.