Google Data Studio Review

OPINION / 10th November 2016

Google Data Studio was released in September 2016, in beta, to non-premium members in the UK.  After road-testing the tool, we’ve got the low-down on what the Google Data Studio is, how its dashboard works, and the benefits and drawbacks of using this tool.

What is Google Data Studio?

It’s a web-based tool that allows people to present and share their Google Analytics data in an easy, customisable way.  It allows connections to other data sources, including Google Big Query, AdWords, Google Sheets, and MySQL databases, which makes it very powerful.  Google’s tool competes with many products in the market, that do the same thing, such as Klipfolio, Tableau, and QlikView.

Why use a dashboard tool?

Data dashboards allow the distribution of data to people who can use it to help make better decisions within an organisation.  The data should be simple to use and access, and provide teams such as sales and marketing with useful, actionable data.

What’s good about it?

  • Ease of set up – connecting data sources is easy, the report editor works like a simple canvas allowing you to drag objects around, resize them, and change the styling options
  • Sharing – dashboards can be shared with View or Edit options with a range of options, from specific people to anyone on the web, all handled by Google’s normal authentication method.  There’s no new software for people to download, or accounts to set up (assuming they already have a Google account)
  • Ease of use for report users – the dashboard’s interface is simple and intuitive, with mouse-over help and details on charts, and simple filter or date change options

Google Data Studio editing mode


What’s not good about it?

•    limited chart options – there are some obvious gaps in the charting capabilities, such as treemaps, bubble charts, and stacked bars on a time series chart.
•    no Google Analytics advanced segments – advanced segments are one of the most useful features of Google Analytics yet there is no option to apply advanced segments to the Google Data Studio reports.
•    mediocre mobile display – whilst dashboards will display on mobile screens they are definitely not optimised for mobile displays
•    limited to 5 reports – in the free version you can only create 5 reports per Google account, although each report can have up to 100 pages

Our verdict?

This is a very strong dashboard tool from Google.  It’s easy to get quick value from, intuitive to use, but has limited features.  We expect Google to develop this product further over the next few years, to become more of a contender on features compared with the incumbents.

Have a look at our example dashboard using Google’s own demo data from their Merchandise Store.

Alex Rigg Alex Rigg Senior Digital Analyst Alex Rigg