The Google Performance Summit marks an exciting moment for search, ads, and analytics. The evolution of Google’s products are making it easier than ever to reach the right audience, in the right place, at the right moment.
With the release of Google’s new Data Studio 360, we now have a tool for data visualization that is as powerful as it is easy to use. The reasons Data Studio 360 is a game changer for reporting are myriad, but the three primary features that get us excited are its ease:capability ratio, brand compatible visualization abilities, and data controls.
Data Studio feels like Google. The platform brings together many of the familiar design elements from other products within the Google family of tools. The Data Studio UI is quite similar to the Google Drive we know and love, especially the opening home screen at datastudio.google.com. And just as you would click the ‘+’ button in the bottom right corner to start a new email in your Google Inbox, you can click Data Studio’s ‘+’ button to start a new report.
Also characteristic of Google’s user experience, there’s little guesswork as to what to do once you create your new Data Studio report. Once your new report opens you are greeted with the option to connect a new data source—this is where Data Studio will read data in order to populate the tables and charts within your report.
The data source you select will be the default data source for all charts and tables for your report. While not the focus of this post, it is important to point out (and even celebrate the possibility) that you can attach different and unique data sources for specific tables and charts within your report. For instance, in the same report you have the capability to have two charts that visualize data from your two Google Analytics mobile app properties comparing data from your iOS and Android apps. This is another area where Google Analytics makes it easy to pull in the necessary data for your reporting needs because you are not limited to one (or even one type) of data source for your reporting.
In the data source selector, you have the option to choose a previously-connected data source or to create a new data source via the connector options for Data Studio. If you click ‘Create New Data Source,’ you are given the option of the currently available data connectors for Data Studio. At the time of this blog post, the currently available data sources are Attribution 360, BigQuery, Google Analytics, and Google Sheets (with more connectors on the way!). To connect, simply select the type of data source you want, find your data source within the list, and click ‘Connect.’
After connecting your Data Source, you are presented with all of the dimensions and metrics that are available within your source. From here, you can edit the names of these dimensions and metrics if you want, e,g., you can shorten the name of Goal Completion and Conversion Rate metrics to change how they are presented within the report. This also allows you to adjust how the data is read by default from a data source, such as a Google Sheet, as you may want a number to be read as a text string so that it is a dimension rather than a metric.
Now is the time that you can make these changes for how Data Studio will read your data source. (Note: you can edit your data source later within your report as well.) Also on this screen, you have the ability to edit the access of this data source by selecting whether or not the viewer needs their own access to the data source in order to view the report, but more on that later—just like in Google Sheets! Once you have made any necessary changes to your data source, click ‘Add To Report.’
Once your data source has been added to the report, you’ll see a blank canvas. Here you can create visualizations using an incredibly simple drag-and-drop functionality to add charts, tables, graphics, text and dimension filters to your report. In a very short amount of time, you can have beautiful reports visualizing your most important data in easy-to-digest ways, helping to inform the decisions that you need to make.
Because of Data Studio’s blank canvas-type flexibility, we have the ability to pull in virtually any elements we need in order to ensure that our reports are not just beautiful, but also built specific to our clients’ brands. With the click of a button, you can add branding and logos to the report, as well as change the color palette for charts to match brand guidelines.
To say this is a massive improvement to the previous dashboards and reporting features in Google Analytics is quite the understatement. We can now quickly and easily use clients’ data that tells a story, in a format that reflects their brands.
Another huge benefit to Data Studio’s reporting solutions is the ability to control the way in which we share data. This control works in a few ways. First, when you connect your data source, you are given the option to allow viewers to use your credentials to the data source or to force the viewer to use their own access to the data source.
What this allows (that was not previously available from Google) is for a user to view the report without having to be added to the Google Analytics account. That means you can build your report to display the data that you want in the manner that you want without having to give a user complete access to all of the reportable data within the data source—a massive improvement over only having the option of sharing access to the entire data source to view the available data.
The next way that Data Studio puts control in the hands of its users is by making a simple sharing interface that we are all familiar with a la Google Drive. If you have ever shared a document through Google Drive, then you are already familiar with how to share within Data Studio.
Simply select ‘Share’ and you are presented with the ability to add others to your report so that they can either edit or only view the report. Under the advanced settings, you are also given the ability to control more options for those editors and viewers of the report. It really is a great and simple way to share access and controls for your data.