Monitor Service Update: Near real-time data provides golden opportunity for marketers

It’s just after Labor Day and the results from the August Monitor compilation are in. During the past month, 17,948 schools added 80,910 new personnel to their websites. That means exactly one third of all Monitored schools added new personnel in August, an average of 4.5 new names per school. By comparison, the numbers in July were significantly smaller – less than one quarter of Monitored schools made additions, with an average of 3.2 names per school.

MonitoredNames New to School Each Month

We now have one complete year of data on personnel turnover derived from the rate of new names added each month. (This assumes an equivalent number of personnel leaving as well.) If the pattern above holds true, September will be the month in which we see the largest gains. 5.1 percent of our current 2,665,000 names equates to 136,000 more new names. Looking ahead then, the 3 month total is projected to be 254,000–almost 10% of the names on the Monitored schools database.

Now let’s look at the previous twelve months during which MCH added 329,000 new names from our Monitor Service. It’s hard to get a fix on what that really means because the number of schools monitored grew substantially each month, from more than 25,000 in September 2013 to more than 53,000 at the end of August 2014. A better indication comes if we substitute our prediction for September 2014 in place of September 2013’s actual. The new result is 386,000 new names which yields a new name rate of 14.5 percent each year.

We’ve also identified a significant change in schools’ websites during the summer. Typically about 5% of the schools we monitor are in error mode primarily due to web maintenance issues, but during the summer, that number is closer to 15%. Of course, summer is when you expect to see this kind of activity. We review and fix these problems daily, but it means our progress is somewhat understated. These schools, which had all been Monitored most of last year, are now are in a hold mode.  On the bright side, when you add back the 15%, the total number of schools being monitored is somewhat higher than 60,000, with commensurately more names and new names. We will catch them all up through the fall.

The updated figures for August are reflected in the charts below.

Monthly Chart

New Names By MonthFor those of you following this blog, you will note I was over optimistic in my prediction for August. I thought we might approach 150,000 new names and we only got 80,000 – but there’s a reason. Even though we call our process “near real time”, ‘near’ is not actually ‘real’ time. We review school websites a little more frequently than once a month. That means the changes we record occur on websites within that 30 day period. Let’s assume that the changes, on average, are two weeks old when we capture them.  Our database then represents the state of affairs two weeks ago, or in our current case, August 18.

Our school opening day data shows that 50 percent of students return to school in the last two weeks of August. So our Monitored data represents school personnel right before this big event.  The high rate of web maintenance and the amount of names being added with the two week average lag, suggest that schools update their sites right as schools open. Not really a surprise.

We also know from the chart at right that schools never stop updating their websites. It’s all about monitoring year round. The reality is that MCH will never have the new names before schools open, but we will have the new names faster than anyone else, and that makes a BIG difference to marketers.