Marketing analytics & reporting

Looker Studio (Google Data Studio) Pricing: Is Looker Studio Really Free to Use in 2024?

Looker Studio (formerly called Google Data Studio) is one of the market's most popular marketing reporting tools. Not only in-house marketers but agencies also use it extensively because of its native compatibility with the rest of the Google products. Also, many people use it for one main reason - it’s free. But is that really the case?

Whatagraph marketing reporting tool
Dominyka Vaičiūnaitė

Jul 20 2022 8 min read

Looker Studio (Google Data Studio) Pricing: Is Looker Studio Really Free to Use in 2024?

Table of Contents

    Marketing agencies choose to use Looker Studio for two reasons: it provides easy access to multiple data sources and claims to be free. Sounds appealing, right? We've discovered something else to be true. Continue reading to learn more about our drill-down overview of Looker Studio Pricing and its hidden costs you may not be aware of.

    Is Looker Studio Free?

    Yes, Google Data Studio (now Looker Studio) is free. You can set it up and create reports for $0 but only if you use data from Google products. If you want to include data sources outside the Google platform, you need to pay a monthly subscription and purchase third party connectors for those data sources.

    However, marketing agencies don’t need to pay money to create an account and set it up. It’s also free to pull data from these platforms:

    1. Google Sheets;
    2. BigQuery;
    3. Google Ads;
    4. Google Analytics;
    5. File Upload;
    6. Amazon Redshift;
    7. Display & Video 360;
    8. Campaign Manager 360;
    9. Cloud SQL for MySQL;
    10. Cloud Spanner;
    11. Extract Data;
    12. Google Ad Manager 360;
    13. Google Surveys;
    14. Google Cloud Storage;
    15. MySQL;
    16. Microsoft SQL Server;
    17. Search Ads 360;
    18. YouTube Analytics;
    19. Search Console;
    20. PostgreSQL.

    Google data studio connectorsAs you can notice, all these platforms are provided by Google itself. So, if you are only using Google apps, Looker Studio might be just the right reporting solution, and it will actually be completely free to use for your case. 

    But this is where the ‘free’ aspect of Looker Studio ends.

    Marketing agencies typically use additional SEO, social media, and paid media tools, from which Looker Studio will not provide free data. You’d be required to purchase third-party connectors and pay for monthly subscription plans.

    In essence, if you need SEMRush, Adroll, Shopify, LinkedIn ads or any other data source to use with Looker Studio… You’ll have to pay for it. And then you’ll have to wrestle with Excel spreadsheets most of the time.

    Looker Studio Connectors - The Full Story

    Looker Studio is a quite advanced reporting and business intelligence platform. Even their connector list is filled with awesome and powerful tools.

    As of 2022, Looker Studio provide access to clients’ data from 800+ data sets from around 630 data connectors. 

    Looker Studio provides two types of connectors: Free (20); Partner/Paid (613).Google Data Studio paid connectors
    They even allow you to create your own extra connectors if you can't find what you're looking for. You can Build Your Own in the Partner Connectors section, which you can then test, deploy, use, and distribute.

    Looker Studio covers a vast array of data sources, allowing marketing agencies to easily access and extract valuable information on the performance of ad campaigns, initiatives, and experiments. 

    You can pull client data from LinkedIn ads, PPC campaigns, or SEO campaigns using paid Looker Studio connectors such as Supermetrics, Power My Analytics, Windsor.ai, or Ahrefs. This will highlight important client business information such as audience demographics, keyword ranking, impressions, clicks, or sales, which is all crucial info for small businesses.

    However, if your digital marketing agency relies heavily on platforms like BigQuery, Google Ads, Google Analytics, or YouTube Analytics for your workflow, you may not even need to worry about paid connectors as a functionality.

    Why Looker Studio is Not Really Free

    A connector is a program that connects two platforms or programs. This tool is Looker Studio. It supports 610 partner (paid) connectors from which you can pull data.

    cross-channel reports

    In other words, if you want to create Looker Studio reports for all of your marketing efforts and channels, you'll need to buy a couple of paid connectors to pull data and metrics from them, which could slow down the whole reporting process.

    For example, if you want to learn how your SEO rankings are performing, you’d use a connector tool such as Ahrefs and/or SEMRush. The data from each of these SEO tools would then be pulled into Looker Studio to create a report. And this would go on for other marketing channels. 

    If you run social media ad campaigns for a client, you'll need to invest in one or two of the most popular tools.

    For example, you could use Supermetrics to gain insights from Facebook Ads or Reporting Ninja to gain insights from Instagram.

    If you want to increase sales and run e-commerce strategies, you should invest in tools that provide insights into your client's business performance.

    For example, Power My Analytics or Reporting Ninja would be used to extract insights from Google My Business (yes, Looker Studio does not provide it natively); Octoboard would be used to extract key business performance indicators; and Dataddo would be used to collect data on each purchase made on the website from WooCommerce.

    Here is what your monthly receipt would look like:

    Monthly Receipt for Google Data Studio Paid ConnectorsMaybe your agency can withhold such an attack on your budget, but it’s a pretty big number to pay each month just to have the option of creating real-time dashboards and reports for your clients.

    A Better Looker Studio Alternative

    Marketing agencies run their strategies across multiple platforms. That’s a given. Agencies try to improve their client’s website rankings by launching SEO campaigns; increase CTR and website traffic by running PPC campaigns; increase brand awareness by launching paid social media campaigns. These strategies and campaigns require different tools to access different data from different platforms.

    While Looker Studio provides 630 connectors, 600 are paid and must be purchased separately. This means that if you wanted to use Ahrefs or SEMRush data to create a report, you'd have to pay a monthly subscription.

    Whatagraph hopes to provide you with transparency and simple pricing plans. We integrate with over 40 of the most common marketing platforms to provide you with the most efficient tool. While it is difficult to estimate how much reporting with Looker Studio will cost you, Whatagraph clearly states the features you are paying for, the data sources available, and the platforms with which you can integrate.

    40+ data

    Whatagraph shares some of the same characteristics as Looker Studio:

    • Data visualization;
    • Cross-channel reporting;
    • Report customization;
    • Interactive dashboards;
    • Share reports by giving permissions.

    However, Whatagraph provides extra features:

    whatagraph automation functionality

    • A white-label option that allows you to remove our logo from your reports;
    • Ease of use;
    • Report templates for hundreds of different use cases.

    Learn more about Looker Studio and its features by checking out our Looker Studio review.

    GDS alternativeWhile you can set up Looker Studio completely for free, as shown in a hypothetical receipt, you may end up paying from $500 to $600 monthly, depending on your needs.

    We want to offer you a Looker Studio alternative

    Get all the extra features mentioned above, start enjoying reporting and save time and money by getting a tool that covers all your needs. Whatagraph’s plans start at $199 per month and are customizable to accommodate marketing agencies considering their needs and sizes. Current tiers consist of a Professional, Premium, and Custom plan. Whatagraph can be purchased annually with a -30-day money-back guarantee.

    Looker Studio Pro pricing

    When talking about how much Looker Studio costs, we can't forget about Looker Studio Pro. This is the paid, premium version of Looker that has some extra features not available in the free plan. These include:

    • a team dashboard with the ability to assign roles and permissions
    • linking Google Cloud projects to Looker Studio for better project ownership
    • better support

    Unfortunately, there is no specific pricing information on Google's pages and you'll have to request a demo and get custom pricing according to your unique needs.

    Whatagraph pricing plans
    Wrapping up

    The best marketing data reporting tool solves the most problems, meets the needs of its customers, and saves resources. If you think that Looker Studio pricing is not really transparent and that you need something easier to use and with better onboarding + a wealth of features, we have a solution.

    Consider Whatagraph and try it out for free for 7 days. You don’t need to be a data analyst to create stunning marketing reports.

    The accuracy, beautiful reports, and account managers will demonstrate the obvious value of a professional reporting solution designed specifically for marketing agencies. Sign up for your free trial today!

    40 data sources

    Published on Jul 20 2022

    Whatagraph marketing reporting tool

    WRITTEN BY

    Dominyka Vaičiūnaitė

    Dominyka is a copywriter at Whatagraph with a background in product marketing and customer success. Her degree in Mass Communications/Media Studies helps her to use simple words to explain complex ideas. In addition to adding value to our landing pages, you can find her name behind numerous product releases, in-app notifications, and guides in our help center.