Google Data Studio – Dashboard reporting with a kick

Estimated Reading Time 7 minutes

What is Google Data Studio?

Data studio takes online data reporting dashboards to the next level. Although currently in beta, this platform allows interactive reporting which is easy to set up, share and read.

Google offers you multiple data sources to connect to your reports and complete customisation of layout, theme, metrics and dimensions per section of the report. The best part of all is it is interactive, e.g. when you share it – the user can hover over the metrics to see labels and numbers.

Why should you use Data Studio?

From the smallest accounts through to huge websites, the flexibility of reports allows you to go from top level through to comparison data for multiple metrics and data fields. Furthermore, the source of data can be selected.

Say for example you just want to review your AdWords data, choose this as your data import and select any reports you want to build based on your AdWords data.

Now let’s get to the fun part. What reports you can actually create?

Google starts you off with a few of their own to play with:

Data Studio templates

Login to take a look at the World Population Data Report

Without wishing to gush over Data Studio too much, I have picked some of the cool little details which make this a really useful tool to add to your digital marketing armoury.

Data Heat Map

Set chosen columns of data with a heat map colour code to identify high cost keywords or high cpc’s. Be warned, as this is still in beta it does have some glitches which need ironing out and ideally additional settings for the heat map metrics. On standard data however it works well to identify highs and lows within your table of data.

heatmap data studio

Date and Filter Controls

Data Filter selector data studio

Once the report is ready to share, what better way to make it interactive than give the client some control to play.

By inserting the date picker, they can compare other data within the same report with a simple selection of date.

With the filter toggle they can pick and choose what data to show in their graph or table.

Be warned, you have to group any data in the page with that filter, otherwise the whole page will be filtered.


Date selector data studio

Auto Compare

A nifty little setting on the data properties of a table does allow you to compare your date range to previous period or year data. This then auto populates with up and down arrows to show increase or decrease on the comparable data period. Be warned, if you compare average position from AdWords, the upward arrow actually refers to a position decrease. This is due to the position number being higher, but as we know the lower the number the higher the rank on the page. Another little issue which Google need to address.

It would also be great to pick custom data to compare to as many of our retail clients work in periods, ideally we would compare exact like for like periods rather than automated assumptive data.

auto date compare data studio

Copy, Paste, Group, Order

It is so easy to use, taking normal everyday functions of copy and paste to make building these reports super simple. The layout is easy to drag and drop components, resize them, align them and do most things you can in sheets or PowerPoint.

Multiple Data Source Imports

My one big hope following the online demo from Nikhil Roy, product manager of data studio, was to import Google AdWords and Bing data into one page. It seems possible but on playing around with it the system seems to have a few sticking points. It seems to get confused with multiple data sources being used on one page. If you are using one of Google’s own data feeds which pulls data from a live account, it is super simple. If you are using data imports from a sheet or other source there are a number of other steps you need to take to ensure you data pulls in correctly.

It’s fine, it is free and it is in beta right now, there are bound to be a few functional difficulties. I just can’t wait till some of these teething problems are addressed and we can use data studio in all its glory.

Rachel Mepham
With over 15 years’ experience in Digital Marketing, Rachel heads up the team at Digital Clarity. With a deep skill set in the Paid Search, Social Media and Analytics, Rachel is regarded by both clients and peers as one of the most experienced and prolific women in the UK digital space. Her approach and application to digital strategy planning has been used by some of the biggest brands as well as leading advertising and marketing agencies.