All summer I dreamt of the potential for an easy reporting platform that pulled data from the Analytics and AdWords dashboards to expedite reporting processes and allow more time for strategic planning and consulting. And, wow, did Google deliver.
Although the platform is still in Beta, it does already serve as a near-fully functional reporting framework for paid and organic search analytics data. Over my winter break, I was able to help transition the reporting framework for several clients at CommCreative onto preliminary Data Studio reports.
In that time, several helpful features and frustrating shortcomings stood out to me:
- Data Studio’s widget-based structure allows for plenty of flexibility and aesthetic changes to streamline and clarify data reporting.
- Pre-existing templates are incredibly helpful for quick, preliminary reports or initial guidelines for final reports.
- Drawing from Google Sheets is a fantastic concept.
- Listing some metrics as dimensions and vice versa is pretty much just impossible. This can be incredibly frustrating if your reporting framework is currently set up in a way that goes against this restriction.
- Pulling from the data on a Google Sheet is definitely not as user-friendly and compatible with the rest of the data as one would like it to be. Connecting to the Google Sheet and properly setting up its data inputs is (understandably), much more complex than normal data input and is somewhat incompatible within other tables.
- What is up with those formulas? While they tried to implement a formula system resembling Excel in its user-friendliness, the end result is one that is less than ideal. The formulas allowed in Data Studio tables are often clunky and difficult to put together.
- For some tables with a longer list of metrics, a wrapping feature would be helpful to create a cleaner look to the overall report. I often had to duplicate the original table and place it beneath the original in order to continue adding metrics for a specific dimension or two.
- Selecting metrics one at a time from the very beginning of the menu can be a hassle. Allowing the user to check-off desired metrics from the overall list would expedite the process, and allow for faster table creation.
- Data Studio still doesn’t offer a conditional formatting option like in Excel. While this may not seem like a serious inconvenience, just wait until you have a full page filled to the brim with tables and performance metrics for the client to look through. Conditional formatting options would be the easiest way to break up the large amounts of curated data and allow marketing managers to more quickly visualize and understand the data being provided.
All in all, Data Studio is the beginning of a revolution in the process of digital reporting. With increases in the vast amounts of consumer data and online performance metrics, easy, automatic reporting frameworks will allow companies to cut costs, boost efficiency and transparency, and spend more time providing the client with stronger strategic plans and fewer PDF files clogging up their inbox.