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Google Data Studio Reports: The Ultimate Guide for Agencies and Marketers

Google Data Studio is one of the most commonly used marketing reporting tools with agencies and in-house marketers. It allows marketers to use more than 600 connectors as data sources and create reports from a template. If you consider using GDS to create your first report - this article is for you. It will guide you through the report creation process and offer 5 of the very best reports you can create with Google Data Studio.

Dominyka Vaičiūnaitė
Dominyka Vaičiūnaitė

Aug 26, 2022 8 min read

Google Data Studio articles hub

What Are Google Data Studio Reports?

Google Data Studio reports are documents created in Google Data Studio that marketing agencies use to gather marketing performance data and turn them into visual representations. GDS reports are a popular choice among marketing agencies and in-house marketers because of two main reasons:

1. GDS reports allow marketers to view Google Analytics data, Google Ads + connect and pull data from third-party connectors.

2. GDS offers many great features available for free: 

  • Multiple stakeholders can access reports at the same time;
  • Reports are interactive;
  • GDS allows to fetch benchmark KPIs from all vendors;
  • You can schedule email delivery of your GDS report;
  • Data visualization;
  • GDS can be customized. With some limitations to scorecards, you can easily add additional pages, graphs, and tables.

Additional information:

All Google Data Studio reports are stored in Google Cloud Storage. This means that a storage place needs to be purchased. So, if you consider using GDS, keep in mind that it is not completely free. 

If you want to find out more about Google Data Studio pricing, we have an article that you’d want to take a look at.

How Do You Create Google Data Studio Reports?

There are a couple of ways you could create Google Data Studio reports. We’ll cover all of them here so you can make a quick choice based on your time and preferences.

Create Google Data Studio Account

First off, of course, you need to get access to the platform. 

You’ll be asked to enter basic info like country and company name. 

Create Google Data Studio Account

Create Your Google Data Studio AccountAdd Relevant Connectors

Google Data Studio has over 600 connectors, allowing marketing agencies to pull data sets from any popular marketing platform. 20 of these connectors are completely free and they are provided by Google. The remaining 600+ are paid so the total cost of Google Data Studio will entirely depend on the integrations you use on a daily basis to report on your marketing activities.

Google Data Studio paid connectors

You can even make your extra connectors if you can't find what you're looking for. You can create your own connector in the Partner Connectors section, too.

After that, you'll be prompted to authorize Google Analytics or whatever "connector" you've added. Simply log in, authorize, and connect.

authorize Google Analytics

Create a Report From a Template or Blank Page

If you are a newbie with Google Data Studio, you have the option to go through the ‘Welcome to Data Studio’ walkthrough, which will show you how to create reports.

Welcome to Data Studio

Once you connect the channels and connectors you want to see in the Google Data Studio report, you can decide how to approach it. You have two options:

1. From a blank report

Go to the Data Studio homepage. 

The very first option offered on the panel is Blank Report.

Data Studio homepage

Once you press on the Blank Report, this is what you’ll be presented with:

Data Studio blank report

Literally, a blank canvas for you to get creative with. 

To show you what data looks like in Google Data Studio, we have connected Google Analytics account.

Google Data Studio example
Objectively speaking, the report is straightforward, clear, and plain yet provides the information needed in an easy-to-understand way.

By employing the customization feature, you can:

  • Change the title of the report;
  • Add a banner;
  • Add another chart, graph, or table;
  • Change fonts;
  • Add photos;
  • Add new data sources;
  • Change the theme and layout.

Google Analytics example
Google Data Studio also allows you to customize all of their available themes. You can, for example, choose a different background color that better matches your agency’s or client’s brand:

  • Click Customize in the Theme and Layout panel.
  • Scroll all the way down to the Background and Border section.
  • Set the Background color to your favorite using the color picker. 

2. From a template

The easiest way to create a report in Google Data Studio is by using a template. 

It saves time, aggregates, and visually presents all the needed data.

Google Data Studio provides about 50 templates covering different data sources such as:

  • Google Analytics;
  • BigQuery;
  • Google Sheets;
  • YouTube Analytics;
  • Google Ads;
  • Search Console;
  • Display & Video 360;
  • Search Ads 360.

Here is a glimpse at the Google Data Studio report gallery: 

Google Data Studio report gallery

To create a report from a Google Data Studio, simply choose the template that connects with the needed data source and represents the needed area. 

For example, the e-Commerce PPC template connects Google Analytics and Google Ads data sources but displays only those KPIs and metrics that best represent e-Commerce analytics.

If you haven’t already authorized your data sources, you’ll be asked to do that now. Other than that, there is nothing else to do. You’ve created a report that can now be optimized in the same way you’d optimize a report you’d create from a blank page. 

Note: No matter the way you choose to create a report, Google Data Studio provides an option to share the report.

Simply press Share and add as many people as you want to have the access to the report. 

You have the options to give people either View or Edit access. 

Google Data Studio Sharing Option

 5 Examples of Great Google Data Studio Reports

1. Google Analytics Audience Overview

The Audience Overview is one of the first report templates you see when you log land on the Google Data Studio template gallery. 

An audience is defined by Google Analytics as "users you group together based on any combination of attributes that is meaningful to your business".

This report is especially useful for marketing agencies when learning about clients’ audience behavior and their habits. 

This report contains the following metrics:

  • Pageviews Pages/Per Session 
  • Bounce Rate 
  • Percentage of New Sessions
  • Sessions
  • Users 
  • Average Session Duration 

Google Analytics Audience Overview

2. Google Ads Overview Report

Another one of the most popular reports among marketing agencies and in-house marketers is the Google Ads Overview Report.

Google Data Studio displays metrics from CTR to impressions, from conversion rate to costs and CPC.

This Google Data Studio report template provides many data visualization points. As you can see, Google Data Studio uses graphs, tables, and pie charts to clearly show you data points. 

For example, device breakdown instantly gives insights into which devices receive the most clicks, and what the costs and conversions are. 

Google Ads Overview Report

3. Search Console Report

Marketing agencies almost always work on improving clients’ websites. To measure SEO results, Search Console Report is especially useful as it provides valuable insights into clients’ website search performance.

More specifically, the Search Console Report displays:

  • Search Traffic - your primary search performance metric, which includes Search Analytics and reporting on external links to your site.
  • Google Index - This section contains a number of features, such as indexing reports and a list of keywords associated with your website.
  • Crawl - this section addresses some of the more technical aspects of your website's relationship with Google, such as statistics on pages crawled by Google's search algorithm and URL parameter settings.

Essentially, looking at this report, you should be able to answer the following questions:

  • Which content is best suited to each device type?
  • Which type of device generates the most revenue?
  • What are your top performing pages in terms of organic search?

Search Console Report

4. Search Ads 360 Performance

Search Ads 360 is a search management platform that assists agencies and in-house marketers to manage multiple media channels and search engines. 

Search Ads 360 allows gathering all metrics from all ad campaigns such as:

  • Ad/keyword performance across engines;
  • Conversions;
  • Google Search clicks;
  • Users vs. Sessions;
  • Organic CTR;
  • Total cost;
  • Ad groups;
  • Average position, etc.

Note: The Search Ads 360 report enables agencies to manage all of their ads and keywords for each search engine in one place, making it easier to compare ad/keyword performance across engines.

Search Ads 360 Help page suggests that with Search Ads 360 - ‘you save time, reduce complexity, and have the ability to make better decisions while increasing your search marketing ROI’.

Search Ads 360 Performance

Lastly, as you can see in the screenshot above, Google Data Studio allows marketers to have 5 specific performance reports to dig deeper into their marketing efforts:

  • Advertiser;
  • Campaign;
  • Engine;
  • Device;
  • Opportunity Lost.

 

5. Display & Video 360 Dashboard

Many marketing agencies use Google Display & Video 360 dashboard for real-time bidding to buy and optimize online media.

This dashboard allows marketers to see how well their attempts to target clients’ target audience with display ads are performing.

Google Display & Video 360 dashboard covers metrics such as:

  • Revenue;
  • Clicks;
  • Impressions;
  • Companion clicks;
  • Trueview impression share;
  • Unique cookie reach.

Google Display & Video 360 dashboard gives access to multiple data sources like YouTube, VOD (Video on Demand) platforms, or advertising websites. 

Display & Video 360 Dashboard

A Better Alternative to Google Data Studio Reports - Whatagraph

Google Data Studio is a modern, powerful, and, to some extent, free tool. 

Yet, it does have some limitations by which marketing agencies are disadvantaged. 

  1. To begin with, Google Data Studio users can allow others to view reports online by setting permissions.  On the other hand, Whatagraph users can export reports to PDFs to email their clients, generate a report URL or send automated report emails at any frequency they want. 
  2. Even though Google Data Studio provides 630 connectors, more than 600 of them are paid. GDS claims to be free yet their pricing plans are not fully transparent. In contrast, Whatagraph specifically shows the functionalities you are paying for, the data sources that are available, and the platforms that can be integrated.
  3. In our Google Data Studio review article, we analyzed hundreds of G2 reviews on this tool. We found that ‘first-time users find it overwhelming and complex to use’ plus ‘the tool requires a bit of data analytics knowledge’. Moreover, we found that there are many people complaining about no onboarding and lack of support. 

On the contrary, Whatagraph is extremely simple to use because it was designed for marketers who want an easy way to create marketing reports. Not only that, but every new customers gets a free 30-minute onboarding session to help set up their account.

We walk you through the entire report creation and account and platform addition process. PLUS, we provide best practices for approaching reporting in general!

Whatagraph shares some similarities with Google Data Studio like data visualization, cross-channel reporting, report customization, and interactive dashboards.

However, our Google Data Studio alternative offers some additional features:

  • A white-label option that removes our logo from your reports;
  • Excellent customer service;
  • A dedicated account manager;
  • Automation capabilities;
  • The ease of use;
  • Report templates for hundreds of different use cases.
  • Proper onboarding.

To summarize, if you want a reliable right hand to assist you at any time of day; if you want to develop a report quickly; and if you want to automate your reports, Whatagraph is the right solution for you.

GDS pros and consGDS Pros and Cons

Bottom Line

Google Data Studio is a legendary reporting tool marketers have been using for many years. It’s free, it connects multiple data sources and pulls data. Yet, due to its lack of functionality and inability to catch up with marketing agencies’ needs, it’s becoming increasingly outdated. And because our platform’s updates are directly coming from customers, we are constantly updating the tool and integrations list.

Stand out from the crowd and start working without any bugs with Whatagraph. If you are ready for clear insights, start your free 7-day trial. No credit card is required and you can cancel anytime!

Published on Aug 26, 2022

Dominyka is a copywriter who uses simple words to explain tough ideas. Her content is inspired by the good old brand “For Dummies.” Anyone can read and learn all things marketing with her.

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