Marketing Dashboard Showdown
Marketing dashboard showdown: Google Data Studio vs Google Sheets Integrations
Should you use Google Data Studio or Google Sheets with the Data Slayer or Supermetrics plugin to build your marketing dashboard reports? Here are three quick pros and cons for each tool.
At Binary & Co we use Google Data Studio and Google Sheets integrations, but for different reasons and purposes. Ultimately we don’t look at these pros and cons to judge which platform is “better,” but more to guide as to which one to choose for our clients.
Google Data Studio pros and cons
Google Data Studio is a versatile and flexible solution. Here are our pros and cons
- Free for Google products: Because it’s a Google product you don’t have to pay to integrate it with other Google products. There are also a bunch of free connectors you can use.
- Connector Marketplace: If you do need to connect it to other APIs, there are a wealth of other connectors you can use that will do what you need.
- Flexibility: Once you set it up you can integrate controls and filters on your reports so that the users themselves can manipulate the data. No more “Can we see the same data but for last week over this week and then YOY.” You can set it up so users can do that themselves.
- Blending data: Because Google DS pulls data on the fly if you are bringing in data from multiple sources, you need to be able to blend that data at source. It’s not impossible, but something that is easily done with a formula in Google Sheets is significantly harder with Data Studio.
- Load times and data sizes: Because DS loads the data whenever it loads you can get times when the load time on reports can be agonizingly slow. Even to the point that it breaks with large data sets. They do give you an option to extract the data, but even that can be cumbersome.
- A bit fiddly: From our point of view, we find that putting the reports together can be a bit fiddly. It’s great to visualize the data once you’ve done it but getting to that point can take a bit of time and effort, especially if you’re blending data from multiple sources. If you’re looking to just quickly pull numbers and run some calculations on them it’s a bit of pig to set up.
Google Sheets integrations pros and cons
We have used a number of Google Sheets integrations to build dashboard reports. Supermetrics is the perhaps best-known, but we recently switched to Dataslayer as we found it much more cost effective.
- Ease of use: If you know how to set up a custom report in Google Analytics, you can set up a query in these sheets plugins. Simply put in the metrics and dimensions, add in any filters, hit go—and it will pull in the numbers for you.
- Calculating fields: Unlike Data Studio, blending the data in the sheet is more of a manual process. For instance, if you want to see how much you’ve spent across all your platforms, simply pull in the cost from each and create a formula to sum them. No blending, joining keys. etc…
- Speed: Because the data is static until you refresh it you are very rarely waiting for the data to load. You just need to set a trigger to have it update when you’re not there. Then it’ll be ready for you when you want it.
- Lack of flexibility: It only pulls data for the time frame or dimensions that you specify. If you want to change it, eg. to see the data for six months instead of three, you have to go in and update the query. It’s not a big deal but if you’re the type that likes to quickly change and compare you might get frustrated at constantly having to create new queries.
- Cost: Unlike data studio, very few, if any, of the connections are free. That means that if you want to use the tool for anything, even Google products, you have to pay. And it’s not as cheap as it used to be. Multiple data sources with multiple users on the Supermetrics platform can cost you 10s of thousands per year. We recently switched to Dataslayer because it was more cost effective for a multi user environment. However, it forces us to adjust our usage to prevent it from becoming equally costly.
- Closed shop: Because these tools act like a closed shop if the connection you’re looking for is not available then you simply can’t use it. Data Studio’s connector marketplace allows a pool of developers to create connectors and launch them. This makes the chances of you finding the connection you want way more likely.
Data Studio is more of a visualization platform whereas the Google Sheets plugins are more of an analysis platform. Depending on how much our clients like to visualize the data and how much analysis they want to do, we will choose whatever one suits their purpose best.
Happy data analyzing or visualizing. If you want to chat more about what we do or why we do it, drop us a line here.
Binary & Co is a digital paid media agency with a difference.We take an integrated approach to paid digital media. Working from the customer outwards, we build full-funnel digital advertising campaigns that aim to really speak to our clients’ audiences. This combination of both tactical and strategic thinking enables us to deliver the value you are looking for.
Get in touch to work with an agency that aims to understand your business and customers as well as you do.