Comprehensive PPC reporting is a big part of the Genie Goals ethos; we deliver weekly and monthly reports to provide clients with both an overview and a detailed look at their paid search activity. So when Google announced a way to easily automate and visualise our reporting, it grabbed our attention.
Made available during its beta testing last year, Data Studio is Google’s answer to accessible and detailed data reporting that’s equipped with heaps of customisation. Part of its Analytics Suite, Google has been hard at work bolstering it with features including Search Console and DoubleClick integration, alongside Google Analytics segment filtering. Now launched globally and with the ability to create an unlimited amount of reports for free, the reasons not to move all your reporting over to it are shrinking by the day.
Data Studio allows you to extract and manipulate data from a variety of sources for the same report; so you can easily analyse and visualise data from AdWords, Analytics or YouTube all in one place. Reports can be made from pre-existing templates, or be fully customised to suit your or your clients needs.
How we use Data Studio at Genie Goals
Data Studio has made our weekly reporting more efficient and comprehensive. When managing accounts spanning multiple territories we can pull all the data into the same report, providing the data is in a single analytics view. If we’ve uploaded Bing data into analytics using a data automation tool, such as Supermetrics, then one report can combine Google and Bing data for a complete overview of search, shopping and display performance. And there’s no sampling, so we know the data is accurate.
We can easily filter using existing analytics dimensions and segments, as well as by custom dimensions we’ve created using CASE statements and REGEX. So by identifying regularly expressions in elements of our accounts we are able to use simple code to create extremely useful filters:
Using these filters allows us to easily display and analyse the performance of an account broken by down by source, territory, category and device; tedious manual filtering is now a thing of the past. These filters can be applied, with a click, to a whole whole host of graphs and scorecards:
The way data is displayed makes it simple to identify specific performing (or underperforming) categories or territories within an account. Spikes or troughs in our graphs are clear to see and scorecards allow us to compare the data with previous periods or years, allowing us to easily spot what might be behind trends in the graphs:
Dig deeper and we can use the same filters to analyse our best and worst performing campaigns and keywords in tables:
Report templates can easily be copied, allowing us to duplicate the structure of reports and then customise them based upon the needs of each client. Not only is this useful for clients, it allows for collaborative work with colleagues; and allows everyone to keep an eye on an account by monitoring performance, even if they’re unfamiliar with it.
Dear Google: Three ways Data Studio can be improved
Google is releasing updates on an almost weekly basis, meaning many of the problems we had with the software early on are long forgotten - but there’s still room for improvement:
Improve the view: One glaring issue is the inability to combine multiple analytics views into the same data source. If you are managing multiple accounts over multiple territories and don’t have an analytics view that combines all that data, a filter can’t be easily applied to sort by territory. This means all of our graphs and scorecards must be specific to one account and data cannot be filtered to switch easily from territory to territory. So, if a client has 10+ territories we have to duplicate the same report 10+ times, or water it down in a lesser version.
Put the date in data: We’d love to be able to easily create custom reporting date ranges not readily available in Analytics. When using preset reporting windows, such as ‘Last Week’, data will automatically refresh once the current week has ended. However, if you’re working to non-traditional client reporting windows such as Fortnightly (that are not preset in Data Studio) you’ll need to update dates manually on all of your slides.
Export strength: It’s undeniably useful to have a log of reports for keeping track of historical performance, so at Genie we write a written summary each week to give a narrative to the data; but currently we’re unable to export an entire report as a PDF, so have to print it page by page. Including this feature would be a simple fix to a really annoying problem.
But these are minor quibbles; and as Google continues to add and alter features within Data Studio the service is only going to improve.
Even at this beta stage the platform is completely transforming our approach to reporting; we’ve recently completed putting together a fully automatic budget tracker that we’ll cover in our next Data Studio related blog post.