Scraping comes from the English verb "to scrape", whose French translation is "gratter". Scraping a web page means copying and pasting the content of the web page via a script or programme that performs this operation periodically.The aim is to extract data from a web site. Then to transform it to allow its use in another context.Take the case of the Swiss real estate sector. As in other activities, it is mainly the so-called "comparator" sites or new players that are launching themselves and using this technique.Why is this? Quite simply because it is indeed simpler and, above all, more profitable to copy and paste content than to create it.
Consequently, is scrapbooking a real threat to your image?
Basically, your website offers rich content to your users. Property descriptions, prices, photos, virtual tours, home staging etc... A whole range of services to enhance the value of the property you offer your users. It is undeniable that these contents generate sales, contribute to your image, to your identity. Obviously, they reinforce your visibility in a very competitive market. It is therefore important to ensure the widest possible distribution. But on your terms and in line with your brand. Outside these sites, they exploit your security flaws in order to aggregate or integrate your data into comparators. They can also resell the raw data or integrate them in the form of data into analysis products.
Is it therefore possible to prevent web scraping in the Swiss real estate sector?
This seems to be just as simple for comparis.ch as for other websites which use this technique. This means using the case law of Ryanair LTD v. PR Aviation BV. Indeed, in 2015, the European Court of Justice took the historic decision to condemn the flight comparator site Pr Aviation BV which scraped data from the Ryanair website without having a licence agreement to do so.
It is therefore necessary to prevent this technique from adding a dedicated paragraph in these TOS (general conditions of use) that includes this text :
"All content (information, documents, images, prices published on our site) are and remain the property of (name of the agency) or any other rights holder. Generally speaking, no rights are granted to the site visitor on these elements, except for the expressly authorised use. These elements are made available to the public if necessary only for private purposes, in accordance with the purpose of the site (name of the agency). None of these elements may be exploited, reproduced, modified, disseminated (electronically, on paper or by other means) or used in any other way for commercial purposes without the prior written authorisation of the Company.
Authorised uses :
You may use this website only for the following private, non-commercial purposes:
consult this website;
conducting property searches;
go to other websites via links on this website;
use other features that may be found on this website.
The use of automated systems or software to extract data from this website or from the website (address of the agency's website) for commercial purposes (screen scraping) is prohibited, unless third parties have entered into a written licence agreement directly with (Company Name), in which the relevant party is given access. »
Therefore, is it enough to no longer see our content on comparis.ch for example?
It should be, but no. Why not? Because the system is more malicious. In order to increase the visibility of properties, the agencies use real estate portals (e.g. immoscout24.ch, Homegate.ch, immostreet.ch, ...). Unfortunately, these real estate websites have a commercial agreement with comparis.ch and do not offer an exclusive distribution on their portal. The only website in French-speaking Switzerland which guarantees data protection is immobilier.ch. It clearly indicates the anti-scraping rules on its website and has no commercial agreement with comparis.ch for the publication of advertisements via an indirect feed.
Why do you obviously not want the real estate ads on comparis.ch?
Damage to the client's property
It should not be forgotten that the estate agency must be able to control from start to finish the development of the property entrusted to it. The agency is contractually responsible for the confidentiality of the data in the mandate. Comparis.ch retrieves the contents of the property and aggregates information which the agency has no control over (history, rating,...). After that, these data are false and degrade the value of the property of the mandate.
An incorrect view of the market
The comparis.ch rating is calculated on the basis of an "average selling price". However, it is actually the average of the "desired price of the sellers". The actual selling price, the price of the final transaction, is not known by comparis.ch. This results in a significant difference depending on the property. This means that the market view conveyed by this note is incorrect.
A model of economic monopoly
In addition, comparis.ch under the guise of being a property price comparator offers its own brokerage services (see picture below). Through their subsidiary company BeneCasa, comparis.ch transmits brokerage mandates to real estate agents who pay for this service.
Even worse, the data retrieved by comparis.ch can be passed on to all these partners without the real estate agencies being informed. The data entrusted by the contractually agreed mandate are thus at the mercy of the highest bidder.