What is Google Data Studio 360?

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Data can be a pivotal asset for Marketers as when properly understood, analyzed, and visualized it can boost the number of insights they can gain from their customers. One such BI (Business Intelligence) tool developed by Google is Google Data Studio 360. It is part of Google’s Marketing Platform and provides an intuitive interface to explore and capture insights using data. Data can easily be visualized into reports and dashboards too.

If you have a Google Cloud account then, Google Data Studio 360 is free. It plays a critical role in the Google Analytics suite as well and is built on top of the Google application Stack and supports Google-based data sources like Google BigQuery, Google Analytics, Google Spreadsheets, and a lot more. It also supports integrating a wide range of on-premise and cloud-based data sources.

In this article, you will be introduced to Google Data Studio 360 and the importance it plays for any organization. You will also learn about the features of Google Data Studio 360 and how your organization can set it up. Finally, you will understand the benefits and few limitations of Google Data Studio 360. Read along to find out about this unique technology developed for organizations by Google.

Table of Contents

What is Google Data Studio 360?

Google Data Studio 360 Logo
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Google Data Studio 360 is part of Google’s Marketing Platform. It is closely integrated with Google Cloud and allows you to easily access data from Google Analytics, Google Ads, Youtube Analytics, Google Sheets, and more than 500+ data sources (https://datastudio.google.com/data), across both Google and Non-Google, to visualize data compellingly and turn it into informative reports and gain valuable insights from your data. It also offers seamless real-time collaboration with anyone, from any corner of the world.

Google Data Studio was introduced as a beta version in 2016 and has been constantly updated so that you can transform your data and surface key business insights along the way. Over 4219 companies like AirAsia Group, Minto Group Inc, GMMB, QA Limited, and many others use Google Data Studio 360 to help them with cross-platform reporting and customer data analysis to gain actionable insights from them.

For more details on Google Data Studio 360, click this link.

Data sources and Connectors

Google Data Studio uses data streaming from the data sources to the backend of the reports. To update dashboards and reports in real-time or in a specific interval, the data flow needs to be established with Google Data Studio. To add data sources in Google Data Studio we need to connect it to other platforms where your data exists, such as Facebook Ads, LinkedIn, Instagram Ads, YouTube, and many more. The data stored in these apps and platforms are called the dataset. To import data from these datasets, one needs a Data Connector to establish a connection between Google Data Studio and the dataset, and it will create Data Source in Google Data Studio.

The new data sources available in Google Data Studio are responsible for remembering all the credentials required to access data from the dataset through the data connectors. It also keeps the track of all fields mapped for the connection. Though, Google offers 18 free Data Connectors with its other Google products such as Google Ads, Google Sheets, Google Analytics, etc. Connecting Google Data Studio to third-party data sources is easy, but the connectors are not free. It offers 454 partnered data connectors (at the time of writing this article). You can view the list of data connectors available for Google Data Studio, here.

Metrics and Dimensions

When you connect your dataset to Google Data Studio, you will see the list of different fields of your data in the data source panel. The fields marked as green are the Dimensions, and the ones marked with blue color are Metrics.

Metrics are the numeric values that are used to provide a quantitative view of the data. Metrics are the aggregated data that are calculated with functions mean, sum, standard deviation, differences and use formulas for complex value. 

Dimensions are the unaggregated columns of the data that defines the characteristics or features of the metrics you count. Dimensions help you describe or categorize your data. It groups the data columns by their characteristics like date, gender, sales, country, etc.

Google Data Studio offers flexible customization, and analysis on their reports by selecting any dimensions and define metrics for the data. It allows users to get different angles of data and generate new insights. The metrics deliver calculated fields by creating functions and branching logic that can be placed anywhere in the dashboard and report. 

Let’s see an example for understanding more about Metrics and Dimensions. Suppose a dataset of sales of T-shirts from your online store in Google Data Studio. The Metrics of this data set can be the number of sales, sales on different T-shirt sizes, total revenue, maximum sales in a day, minimum sales, average visits to the site, etc. The Dimensions for this data can be the type of T-shirt, sizes of T-shirt, county or region of sales, payment type, day of the week, etc. 

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4 Key Features of Google Data Studio 360

Google Data Studio 360 provides numerous features which make it a better alternative when compared to other products. The flexible integration between transforming your data, designing appealing reports and dashboards, and collaborating with teams efficiently to understand your customer’s needs shows you the power of this product. You can also read amplitude google data studio blog post.

The 4 key features of Google Data Studio 360 are given below:

1) Smooth Data Access

Smooth Data Access in Google Data Studio 360 Logo
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With a variety of data sources, bringing together relevant data can become very challenging. As Google Data Studio 360 supports multiple data sources, it has connectors available at all times to enable you to access your data with ease.

2) Meaningful Data Transformations

Meaningful Data Transformations
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Google Data Studio 360 allows you to seamlessly unify and analyze data from multiple sources using dimensions and metrics. In case you need to add a specific metric or dimension, you can create a calculated field based on the data source. This can be depicted on the reports and dashboards you create.

3) Appealing Reports & Dashboards

Reports and Analytics on Google Data Studio 360
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Google Data Studio 360 provides a variety of visualization and editing solutions such as a diverse set of charts and graphs. It has a convenient drag-and-drop reporting interface that helps set up dashboards and reports in just a few clicks. It also has filters so that you can work on individual sections of the data. Finally, it allows you to save your templates so that you can keep your company’s corporate style. You can also check the best list of Google Data Studio templates.

4) Sharing & Collaboration

Sharing & Collaboration of Reports and Dashboards in Google Data Studio
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Google Data Studio 360 allows you and your colleagues to share and collaborate on reports and dashboards in real-time. It uses the same technology in Google Apps to share data. This enables you to grant permissions to edit, view, or add comments to individuals inside or outside the organization.

7 Steps to Use Google Data Studio 360

Now that you have understood the features of Google Data Studio 360, this section focuses on how your organization can use it in 7 simple steps:

Step 1: Log in to Google Data Studio

To log in, go to https://datastudio.google.com/u/0/. You need to have a Google account to use Google Data Studio and if you have a Google Analytics/Search Console/Google Ads account use that.

Step 2: Interact with the Dashboard

Once you log in using your account, the Data Studio Overview page will now open up on your screen. You can click the “Home” tab to view your Dashboard. The Dashboard is similar to Google Docs/Sheets/Drives. It is shown below.

Google Data Studio 360 Dashboard
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On the left side of the Dashboard, you can see the Reports, Data Sources, and Explorer sections.

The Reports section gives you a list of all your reports. You can also filter reports based on their ownership.

The reports section of Google Data Studio 360
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The Data Sources section gives you a list of all connections you have created between Google Data Studio 360 and the original data sources. As you saw, Google Data Studio 360 supports more than 500+ data sources.

The Explorer section provides you an experimental tool that allows you to experiment and modify a chart or graph without making changes to the report itself.

Step 3: Connect to your First Data Source

Now that you have understood the Dashboard, you need to connect to your first data source. If you are a beginner, it is recommended to start with Google Analytics or Google Search Console.

Connect to your First Data Source in Data Studio
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In this example, you will be connecting to a Google Analytics source. You need to first connect the Google Analytics Demo Account for Google Merchandise Store and authorize the connection. Once that is done, select Account, Property, and View. Finally, click “Connect” to finish setting up the connection as shown below.

Setting up the Connection
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Step 4: Create your First Report

Once you connect to your data source, all the fields present in your Google Analytics account will be displayed. You need to click on “Create Report” in the upper-right section of the page.

All the Analytics Fields of the Google Account
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The report format looks like the figure shown below.

Report Format in Google Data Studio 360
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Google Data Studio 360 might also ask if you want to add a new data source to the report, choose “Yes”.

Step 5: Add Some Charts & Graphs

Click the “Add a Chart” option on the toolbar. Many chart types and their illustrations will be displayed for you to choose from. This is shown below.

Charts & Graphs types in Google Data Studio
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After choosing the type of chart, you need to choose the dimension. The default dimension is “Date” but you can alter this. You can use the default metric to make the graph or add a metric using the “Add Metric” option. On the Style tab, you can scroll down and select “Add Border Shadow” as shown below.

Style options in Charts
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You can click on the “View” tab to view your graph as shown below.

Viewing Graphs in Google Data Studio
https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/google-data-studio

Step 6: Adding the Title and Other Captions

To give your report a name, click on “Edit” and double-click the title to change the name.

Editing the Title
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Step 7: Share the Report

To share your report, you need to click on the icon above the Chart Editor. You can now provide the list of users and their email addresses to share the report with ease.

Benefits of Google Data Studio 360

Google Data Studio 360 provides a wide range of resources for both technical and non-technical users to optimize their analysis and acquire better insights from your business data. The benefits it provides to its users and customers are given below.

  • Cloud-Based & Completely Managed: All the services of Google Data Studio 360 are built from the ground up as a cloud service. They are completely monitored by the Google Cloud and bring in patches regularly. Users need not worry about any infrastructure issues as well.
  • Easy Integration with Google’s Ecosystem: A unique feature of Google Data Studio 360 is its ability to easily integrate with other Google technologies such as Google BigQuery, Google Analytics, Google Sheets, etc. This means that if your ETL (Extract, Transform & Load) platform is designed using Google’s architecture then it can easily be integrated with Google Data Studio 360.
  • Easy to Use: Google Data Studio 360 houses a minimal learning curve and anyone familiar with Google technologies in the past can make their reports and dashboards with just a few clicks.
  • Access & Sharing Controls: Google Data Studio 360 inherits granular access control and sharing techniques. These are typical in most of Google’s products. Sharing data with users in the organization and ones not part of the organization is very easy.
  • Support for Live Connections: Unlike other BI tools, Google Data Studio 360 supports live connections. Whenever a report or dashboard is accessed or refreshed in the UI, only the updated data will be fetched.
  • Free of Cost: As long as you have a Google Cloud account, all the services of Google Data Studio 360 are free.

Limitations of Google Data Studio 360

Despite numerous advantages of Google Data Studio 360, it posses few limitations. They are given below.

  • Lack of Real-Time Dashboard Updates: Although live connections are supported, there is no built-in method to keep a dashboard or report auto-refreshed. So, in case you want the auto-refresh feature you need to look for third-party applications.
  • No support for MS Excel: Google Data Studio 360 disregards traditional tools like MS Excel and only considers Google products like Sheets. In case you want Excel support, you need to convert the data into a CSV file or a Google Sheet.
  • Complex Visualizations Not Possible: Although Google Data Studio 360 helps you design reports with a few clicks, it does not support the kind of flexibility and customizability offered by other tools like Tableau.
  • Lack of On-Premise Deployment Options: Tools like Tableau and Power BI provide their users with the option to deploy their services physically. Google Data Studio 360 does not provide this feature and only allows access to data within its internal network.

Despite these limitations, Google Data Studio can provide many benefits to your organization. Ideally, companies can choose to use it if they satisfy the following parameters:

  • You are primarily dependent on Google’s application environment and your architecture is based on Google services.
  • Your requirement does not need complex dashboards or deeper interactions within reports.
  • You do not need a dedicated team of analysts to take advantage of additional functions provided by tools like Tableau.
  • Your compliance requirements are not broken when data is taken outside your internal network.

Conclusion

This article provided a comprehensive guide on Google Data Studio 360 and its importance. It also elaborated on Google Data Studio 360’s key features and how you can incorporate them into your Business Analytics workflows. Finally, this article provided you some of its benefits and limitations. Overall, Google Data Studio 360 offers quality, in terms of the reports and dashboards it helps design, and quantity, in terms of the resources it provides to help you gather better customer insights and collaborate with different teams. It can be a great addition to your organization.

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Share your experience of understanding Google Data Studio 360 in the comments section below!

Aakash Raman
Former Business Associate, Hevo Data

Aakash is a research enthusiast who was involved with multiple teaming bootcamps including Web Application Pen Testing, Network and OS Forensics, Threat Intelligence, Cyber Range and Malware Analysis/Reverse Engineering. His passion to the field drives him to create in-depth technical articles related to data industry. He holds a Undergraduate Degree from Vellore Institute of Technology in Computer Science & Engineering with a Specialization in Information Security and is keen to help data practitioners with his expertise in the related topics.

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