I loved reading the small type in the sports pages growing up. For it was the agate-typed page that held the keys that unlocked how Major League Baseball games played out. Box scores fed my imagination in the same way that some kids imagined being super heroes.

Seeing “Fielder” behind the “HR” stat line immediately prompted images of the big fella’s hitch as he barreled around on a fast ball he redirected out of Tigers Stadium (um, that’s Prince’s dad I’m referencing, by the way! Yes, I’m old!). Or seeing a low-number stat line from Royals pitcher Bret Saberhagen and imagining the righty dominating batter after batter with a big pocket of chew in his cheek.

Without further dating myself too badly, I wasn’t able to watch either of those stars very often as the Tigers and Royals rarely made it to channels on my TV. My exposure to those stars came only when their respective teams were playing the Yankees on WPIX.

Fast forward through a few stabs at progress, and I’ve learned that numbers do not tell the full story (well that, and today you can pretty much watch every baseball game … from anywhere in the world … at any time!).

In fact, many parts of those games I reviewed as a youngster went missing when I restructured them in my head. When did that player hit the home run? Was it meaningful to the outcome? Why did that pitcher come out in the fifth inning? Was he injured? You catch my drift.

Far too often, numbers end up only a small portion of showcasing what really happened, whether they’re from a box score, a corporate 10-K, or a marketing program recap.

This is no different with measuring digital and social media.

I have the privilege of speaking with a number of marketing and communications students each year. One of my go-to comments to them is: If you want a billionaire idea, figure out how to perfectly measure digital.

Obviously, the comment is made tongue-in-cheek, but there is unanimous consent among marketing professionals that there is no perfect measurement available for any program that is trying to reach more than one consumer.

Not a single tool.

I love the passion that Taylor’s Digital Director Jackson Jeyanayagam brings to the conversation when he discusses reaching consumers digitally. He did so recently when Taylor hosted an Internet Week event (Watch the replay here). Jackson reminds clients regularly to look deeper than the initial numbers and try to figure out if you reached the appropriate number of target consumers – people who could seriously be motivated to engage with your product – not just a random number of socially-connected people.

It’s easy to be seduced by numbers alone when you’re looking at program recaps that show astonishingly large digits with respect to reach. How many of those were representative of the target audience your program was trying to reach? Better yet, how many of those consumers were motivated to action?

That’s the part of the digital program box score that matters most to a brand.

It is the success that is often found in the little numbers, though, that can make the difference between a strikeout and a home run.

Photo Credit: Xtra Base Hit Baseball Blog

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