Analytics

Google Data Studio: What Is It, What’s Working & What’s Missing

What is Google Data Studio?

For those of you who don’t already know, Google Data Studio is a dashboard and reporting tool that is easy to use, customize, and share. It allows you to transform your data into appealing and informative reports for your audience. It’s a great tool to track KPIs that support business objectives and generate periodic reports. Right now, Data Studio beta is offered for free to Google account users and Google Cloud Platform customers.

Data Studio is like Google Analytics dashboards on steroids. With Google Analytics dashboards, you are limited to 12 widgets per dashboard and can only connect to the data in the particular view the dashboard is in.

When using Data Studio:

  • You are not limited to just 12 widgets
  • You have the ability to add as many report pages as you would like
  • You can connect reports with multiple Google Analytics accounts and views.

How Does it Compare to Other Tools?

Compared to top business intelligence (BI) tools currently in the market (Tableau, Microsoft Power BI to name a few), Data Studio’s quality doesn’t compare. It doesn’t offer as wide of a range of capabilities and features as other BI tools.

However, it’s a very user friendly tool with drag and drop features, connects easily with your Google Analytics data, and is as easy to share your work as other Google collaboration tools. If this is what you are looking for in a reporting tool, Data Studio may be the tool for you.

What’s Working

Live Data Connection

One of the major challenges with reporting is connecting to your data. Data Studio already has built-in connections to several data sources (listed below) eliminating the need to schedule periodic data refreshes for your reports.

Another benefit of a live data connection is the ability to toggle between date ranges. Depending on how far back your data goes, you can use any date range that satisfies your needs.

List of Data Connectors:

  • DoubleClick
  • Google AdWords
  • Google Analytics and Google Analytics 360
  • Google Attribution 360
  • Google BigQuery
  • Google Cloud SQL
  • Google Sheets
  • MySQL
  • PostgreSQL
  • YouTube Channel
  • Data Uploader

Calculated Metrics

Sometimes your raw data isn’t enough to generate those meaningful reports you desire. Calculated metrics allow you to create custom metrics using formulas. Formula types range from simple to sophisticated, covering a broad range of logical, mathematical, and other typical functions.

Dynamic Controls

Nothing is better than a report where viewers can interact with the visualizations. With Data Studio, you can:

  • Insert dynamic controls so viewers can filter through the content with dimension and date range selectors
  • Include and exclude content from a filter if there’s ever a situation where you don’t want all the content on the page to change.

Collaboration At Its Finest

One of the best features of Data Studio is how easy it is to share and collaborate your reports with others. You can share your reports with anyone you’d like and even work on the same report at the same time.

Assigning users specific permissions, similar to how GA works, is another great feature. For example, you can give your client view access and your team edit access so the client doesn’t change anything without you knowing.

What’s Missing

More Data Connections

As I mentioned earlier, one of the major challenges with reporting is connecting to your data. Data Studio does to a good job by providing built-in data connectors, but the user is limited to a small list of connectors. These connectors are mostly Google data sources with the exception to MySQL, which was just added not too long ago.

If Data Studio wants to elevate to the next level, they need to add additional data connectors to data sources other than Google or give users access to their data connector APIs to build their own data connections.

Not Enough Visualization Options

Like all other dashboard and reporting tools, Data Studio provides the basic visualizations users can use to visualize their data. These visualizations include bar, line, table, and pie charts, which can be sufficient enough for users to visualize their analysis, but analysts want more. They want innovative visualization options so their viewers can better understand their analysis and let their analysis tell a story. It can be difficult for your report to tell a story with the basic visualization options Data Studio has to offer.

No Tooltip Customization

One feature that is used heavily in other BI tools is the tooltip. The tooltip is the message that appears when your cursor is positioned over a graphic on your report, providing the dimensions and metrics that are relevant to the chart.

Most BI tools allow you to add additional metrics to the tooltip to provide more meaningful information for the viewer. Unfortunately, you are unable to add additional metrics to your tooltip in Data Studio. This limits your graphics to the dimensions and metrics used to create the graphic.

No Data Blending

One of the biggest benefits of data visualization and reporting tools is the ability to blend different data sources. Data blending allows you to connect and compare data from separate sources to find common values and patterns. Without the data blending capability, Data Studio limits the insights you can make in your reports.

In conclusion, Google Data Studio is not as advanced as some of the leading business intelligence tools in the market. There are plenty of areas where Data Studio can improve on from data connections and blending to visualization and customization options. But it can instantly connect to your Google data sources, you can transform your data to create meaningful insights, and you can easily share your reports with others. If this is what you are looking for in a dashboard and reporting tool, Google Data Studio is the tool for you.