Marketing analytics & reporting

Why Is Looker Studio Slow and How to Make It Faster

Looker Studio (formerly Google Data Studio) is still a popular tool for marketers who need to connect and visualize data from various sources. Recently, however, users have started reporting slow performance issues, which prolong the reporting process and waste precious time. 

Let’s explain the common speed issues with Looker Studio and how you can solve them. 

Whatagraph marketing reporting tool
Nikola Gemes

Jun 07 2023 5 min read

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Table of Contents

    Why is Looker Studio slow?

    Looker Studio is slow because it has a 6-minute limit on handling queries, which means large data requests can slow down or time out your reports. Generally, Looker Studio (former Google Data Studio) reports load more slowly when processing large amounts of data.

    How to make Looker Studio faster?

    Now that we know the possible reasons for the sluggish performance of Looker Studio dashboards, let’s explore the solutions that can accelerate their performance.

    1. Reduce the dashboard complexity

    If your Looker Studio dashboards are too complex or filled with clutter, it can affect the load times. Using long timeframes, applying higher cardinality (larger number of distinct data values), and data crunching can negatively impact the speed of your reports. 

    Also, you should aim to use fewer dimensions in your reports and avoid too much data blending or pre-calculated fields.

    looker studio complex dashboard
    Source

    Having multiple charts and tables on a dashboard page increases the number of queries created each time the page loads, which slows down its performance.

    Quick fixes

    • One way to reduce the loading time is to consolidate multiple elements into one, such as replacing a group of scorecards that share the same data source with a single table or combining multiple time series charts with different metrics into one graph with options metrics  
    • Another way you can deal with the dashboard complexity issue is to split your reports into multiple pages. Hopefully, it will improve the speed and performance of Looker Studio. 

    A more permanent solution

    While both techniques can improve the dashboard loading speed, make sure you don’t compromise the user experience and clarity of your dashboards, especially if you’re regularly sending them to your clients as an agency service. 

    In that case, you should consider using another data collection and visualization platform — one that allows you to create multi-dimensional widgets without compromising the dashboard performance. 

    Whatagraph allows you to turn data into extensive, visual, cross-channel dashboards, no matter how complex, without sacrificing performance.

    Screenshot 2023-06-06 at 11.41.30.png

    We have a library of pre-made widgets for any integration, but you can also create your own multi-source widgets and drag-and-drop them on the page. 

    Create charts and tables, add goal-tracking visuals, and top-performing ad images or social posts, all within minutes. 

    - Hey, but Looker Studio is free, and Whatagraph has full-fledged pricing plans.

    - This is not completely true. 

    You don’t have to pay anything to create and set up a Looker Studio account. You can even pull data for free from different Google platforms, but this is where the “free Looker Studio” story ends. 

    If you want to collect and report data from other non-Google SEO, social, and paid media tools, you’ll have to purchase 3rd party connectors for each of them.

    Let's take a look at how much it’d cost to compile a stack of Looker Studio connectors to cover different digital marketing needs:

    • Ahrefs (connector also available from Ahrefs $395 Advanced plan and up)
    • Semrush (connector also is available from Semrush $229 Guru plan and up)
    • Google Search Console 
    • Google Analytics 
    • Facebook Ads Manager 
    • LinkedIn Ads Manager 
    • Adroll
    • Instagram 
    • Twitter  
    • Shopify
    • Klaviyo
    • Salesforce
    • Hubspot

    To connect data from these 12 sources to Looker Studio, you’d have to purchase 3rd party connectors. Let’s see how much this cost.

    Supermetrics

    For this data stack, you’d have to go for the Super pricing plan which costs  $533 per month or even ask for a more expensive Custom plan. 

    Windsor.ai

    14 connectors are available in the Professional package which costs $499 per month.

    Fivetran:

    Their pricing plans are usage-based on data volume, so you never know how much you’ll pay. It can be more or can be less than you planned. 

    Panoply:

    A flexible choice of connectors is available from the Standard pricing plan which costs $599 per month.  

    In all these cases, you’d pay more for 12 sources than for Whatagraph’s Professional plan, which gives you a choice of 40+ integrations and 25 data sources to choose from.

    40 data sources 

    2. Adjust data freshness rate

    If your data is updated at a slower rate, it can speed up the performance of your Looker Studio dashboards. Looker Studio allows you to fetch your data from internal temporary cache storage, which is much faster than fetching it directly from the underlying data set. 

    Fetching cached data also minimizes the cost of paid services such as BigQuery, as it reduces the number of queries that need to be executed directly from the data set. 

    This way, your dashboards will use the cache system to respond to repetitive queries and improve the report load times. 

    Screenshot-2023-01-12-at-11.58.38-AM.png

    To reduce the refresh rate for each source:

    • Go to the data source you need to adjust, and locate Data freshness at the top.
    • Open the data freshness pop-up and select a longer refresh option under the Check for fresh data button. 
    • Click Set Data Freshness, and you’re all done.

    OR, you can use Whatagraph dashboards to retain frequent data refresh rates and stay up to date with your marketing analytics and KPIs 

    3. Use Looker Studio’s Extract Data connector

    One of the most effective ways to improve the response of Looker Studio dashboards is to use extracted data as a source. Looker’s Extract Data connector allows users to explore subsets of your data by pulling them from your connectors and caching them for later use.

    This eliminates the time Looker Studio would otherwise use to load your reports while making subsets exploration more responsive than when working with the live connectors.

    google extract data connector

    The only problem is that the Extract Data connector is static, so you should keep refreshing your data sources to maintain data freshness. This shouldn’t be inconvenient if you use schedules to update the data at specific time frames. 

    How to set up an Extracted Data Source?

    This is how you can set up an Extracted Data Source in Looker Studio:

    1. Sign in to Looker Studio.
    2. Click Create on the top left, and select Data Source.
    3. Find the Extract Data connector in the list of connectors
    4. Select Extract Data from the search results and pick an existing data source that you want to extract data from
    5. Now, add the Dimensions and Metrics you want to extract from the Available Fields list. When selected fields appear on the far-right, you can also set Auto-Update for scheduled updates.
    6. Finally, you can apply aggregations, filters, and date ranges to customize the extracted data source to meet your needs. Click Save and Extract

    Once you create an extracted data source, you can use it like any other connector. Online the live connectors, this new extracted data source will be faster and improve the performance of your queries and dashboards. 

    cross-channel reports

    Alternative: Use a dashboard platform with native integrations

    While we’re sure Google’s workaround will help most users improve their Looker Studio performance, one thing still remains — the speed and reliability of the data sources still depend on 3rd party connectors. 

    So if you don’t want to compromise on your dashboards’ speed and visual impact, you should use a data platform with native integrations such as Whatagraph.

    Whatagraph offers 40+ native integrations to popular social media, PPC, e-commerce, and data analytics platforms, allowing you to create dashboards with swift live updates.

    Screenshot 2023-06-06 at 11.47.49.png

    Native integrations are much faster and more stable than 3rd party connectors, so there’s no compromise on querying and visualization speed. 

    But what if you can’t find your source in the list of Whatagraph integrations, work with custom client-specific metrics, or use a niche marketing tool?

     Whatagraph still has you covered with:

    • Custom API — Connect any platform or tool directly via the Custom API
    • Google Sheets integration — Import any structured data from spreadsheets to your dashboards.
    • BigQuery integration — Connect your Google BigQuery data warehouse and visualize any data set stored there, just like any other supported source. 

    And Whatagraph is now faster than ever before. 

    Thanks to a recent infrastructure upgrade to Google Kubernetes Engine, our tests have shown that widget loading times have increased from 30% all the way up to 5 times. 

    For example, before the upgrades, a very heavy widget with 180 configurations would take about a minute to load, and now it takes 10 seconds. 

    The speed upgrades have affected the whole platform — the template gallery, smart builder, and team users’ loading times have, in some cases, dropped from 20 seconds to 1 second. 

    Verdict

    Looker Studio, previously known as Google Data Studio, is still a capable data visualization tool that helps marketing teams and agencies visualize their company’s or client’s data. 

    However, when querying large data sets or visualizing complex widgets, the dashboards take longer to load and become less responsive to interactions. 

    While you can make a few adjustments to Looker Studio to make its dashboards more responsive, you compromise the customization options and reduce the refresh rate. 

    You can solve part of the problem using Google’s Extract Data connector, but it takes time to set up for each source, and the problem of unreliable 3rd party connectors remains. 

    So if the speed and accuracy of reporting and seamless user experience are more important to you than using a free visualization tool, we suggest upgrading from Looker Studio to Whatagraph

    Impress your clients with multi-channel dashboards, individual templates, branded colors, and custom visualizations without compromising performance and speed.

    If you’d like to hear more, here’s a case study on why a marketing agency chose Whatagraph after struggling with Looker Studio for almost 9 years. 

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    Published on Jun 07 2023

    Whatagraph marketing reporting tool

    WRITTEN BY

    Nikola Gemes

    Nikola is a content marketer at Whatagraph with extensive writing experience in SaaS and tech niches. With a background in content management apps and composable architectures, it's his job to educate readers about the latest developments in the world of marketing data, data warehousing, headless architectures, and federated content platforms.