The beginner’s Guide to Data Studio

18 Mar, 2023

1 min

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Have you ever shared your screen on a client meeting, displaying a BigQuery table? It’s like talking about quantum physics with your three-year-old son. If he’s not Hawking’s descendant, we bet he won’t understand. Well, it’s the same with data presentation. The level of complexity and legibility of your data should always be considered when displaying your data dashboard to your clients or team. 

Creating customized and interactive dashboards can be complex and time-consuming… but Google still has an answer! Google Data Studio is Google's free data visualization tool that should help you build appealing dashboards to make your data understandable. 

What is Google Data Studio (GDS)? How does it work? Why should you use it? Discover it and much more in our article...

Diving into Google Data Studio

Launching impactful marketing campaigns is a thing, but reporting on why it was successful is something else. When you want to launch a campaign, you may want to know how valuable this strategy was. 

The presentation of the results or of any other insights really matter: that’s why Google launched GDS in 2016. This free data visualization tool aims at: 

  • Making data dashboards easily accessible (readable and business-friendly)

  • Inciting the sharing of insights among team or stakeholders (that wouldn’t understand raw data)

  • Speeding up the creation of reports: create highly personalized dashboards and benefit from many customization options.

We’ve been talking about reports and dashboards, but concretely: what does it look like?  This is a sample dashboard, created with Google Data Studio that presents ACME’s results for a three-month period of time. What insights does it deliver


This dashboard reports: 

  • The number of users, sessions page views and bounce rate for the period, with their rate, relative to past periods.

  • A ranking of countries depending on the number of local sessions

  • The channels that drove the more engagement

  • Some demographics on the engagement 

Note that this dashboard is just a sample: you can customize it to display other insights in different formats or colors… Feel free to build your dashboard to your liking.

Data Studio: how does it work?

#1 Select your template and connect your data sources

First things first, you need to log into Google Data Studio. Then, it's time to create! You can either choose to duplicate and edit an existing dashboard (left screenshot) or start from scratch (right screenshot):


Discover templates in GDS report gallery. Connecting GDS with your data source is very easy: select the data set you want to connect directly in the tab “My data source”.

Here is the Google Data Studio tutorial to help you add data to a new report. This tutorial also gives you clear directions if you wish to: 

  • Reuse a data source

  • Add data to an existing report
  • Or rename a data source

What kind of data can you add? Well, data coming from any Google tool: Google Ads, Google Analytics, Search Console, Google Cloud Storage, Google Sheets… But not only! You can also plug Facebook Analytics or Adobe Analytics into your Data Studio.

#2 Pick metrics that (really) matter

If you start creating your dashboard from scratch, it’s time to pick the metrics you want to report on: depending on your topic, you can display more or less anything you want. Before you start plugging your data into GDS, define clearly the objectives of your report.


Here is a dashboard that you should use if you want to highlight the efficiency of your ads. There are plenty of customization options: you not only can personalize the content of your dashboard but you can also:

  • Change the visuals you want to display: choose visual elements to showcase your figures

  • Choose striking colors and fonts

  • Adapt your dashboard to your corporate identity and style guide. 

To choose only a few metrics, you should analyze them first and pick the most relevant. Your dashboard should never be an exhaustive presentation of all the data collected. Put yourself in your clients’ shoes: what do they want to know? What are the KPIs that matter to them?

#3 Share your report and collaborate with your team!

You can invite people to either display or collaborate on Data Studio. If you want your team to edit your report, click the tab “Share with others” and select “can edit”. Also note that since no login is required to see a report, you can share it directly with your clients. 

The time you spent creating your report’s template will be made profitable: it can be duplicated and modified endlessly. The diversity of pre-established templates will make you save so much time!

Data studio: the good, the bad and the ugly

Not convinced yet? Let’s dig into both sides of Google Data Studio:

The pros of Data Studio

Google Data Studio could soon become your new favorite asset. Here are the 5 reasons why we can’t go without Data Studio to build special reports

  1. It’s a free tool.

  2. This tool provides rich visualization options: you can create report templates that correspond to each of your clients.

  3. It’s easy to use.

  4. You can use this tool for collaborative work and share it with your colleagues.

  5. You can upload data from many different sources. It will allow you to create tailor-made dashboards that correspond to each of your clients.

The cons of Data Studio

There might be some drawbacks you’d better know before starting using this tool:

  1. There is a limit of 5 different data sources you can upload.

  2. When you want to plug an external dataset (not coming from a Google tool), it might start to get complicated to connect it with GDS. Sometimes the need for a developer is required. 

  3. It might be demoralizing to import an Excel file: first, you have to convert it into a CSV file.


Data Studio is Google’s free tool for data visualization. If there are plenty of other data visualization tools available in the market, this one beats the other on compatibility with other Google platforms. If you use Google Analytics, Google Ads or Google Search Console, you’d better take a look at GDS...

How to make great reports? Which information is better being shared with your clients? We’d be pleased to steer you and hear from your personal experience.


By Emma Jeanpierre

18 Jan, 2022