You may have heard back in October 2022, that Looker Studio has replaced the well-known Google Data Studio product.
Well, here at Appius we see it as a welcome acquisition by Google, and replaces Data Studio, a rather limited data reporting tool, just in time for the GA4 upgrade, that has consumed all data managers focus over the last couple of years.
In their official announcement, Google stated:
“We are unifying our business intelligence product family under the Looker umbrella, bringing together Looker, Data Studio, and core Google technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML). Looker Studio is still free, and has the same features as Data Studio.”
The winning combination of GA4 + Looker Studio is proving a powerful tool in the armoury for Heads of Digital across our client base. And we’ve been working hard supporting, implementing, and consulting on data collection, and reporting strategies across all our client's analytics set-up over the last year and a half.
It goes without saying that as any brand’s marketing strategy evolves and becomes more intricate, so does the sophistication of its reporting needs. But this statement can be flipped too; as the sophistication of reporting evolves, so can the marketing strategy.
There’s an awful lot of power in discovering more granular data insights using these powerful tools, that can supercharge your marketing focus, and make your spend go further.
This blog outlines the basics of Looker Studio, a bit about how we’ve utilised this tool for our client base here at Appius, and what you might need to know about getting started.
What is Google Looker Studio?
Google Looker Studio combines all your data sources into one unified reporting experience. It allows you to create easy-to-interpret, customisable dashboards that go beyond data visualisation.
With support for over 1000 + data sources, and 810 data connectors, Looker Studio helps marketers make data-driven decisions.
The key use case we see at Appius is in Stakeholder management. Where your digital team are up to speed (nearly!) on the intricacies of GA4, many heads of other departments, who once felt comfortable checking in on the website's high level performance, are now at a loss as to where to find that info. We recognise that the lack of Google dashboards for the digital team to create and automate with monthly or quarterly send, means that some teams are reverting back to downloading data into spreadsheets for board reports.
This is where Looker Studio steps in. It’s a complex piece of kit, as a cloud-based BI platform that offers advanced analytics and data modelling capabilities, as well as offering a variety of data integrations and connectors, as well as a SQL-based query language for data analysis. But at it's heart, it’s a visualisation tool, that allows digital teams to bring their data insights to life and tell their story across the business.
Key features of Looker Studio
Integrating with 50+ SQL’s and data sources, and flexible data modelling are key features of Looker Studio.
However, the one feature to call out that we see as a game changer here at Appius is the blended data source feature. Because Looker Studio requires SQL databases to integrate any source, it’s able to take advantage of the raw data in the source. If you are searching for a way to surface your old Universal Analytics Data in a way that can still be navigated and queried, then BigQuery plus Looker Studio is a great example of how Looker's flexibility can move mountains with a raw data source. Google will be removing access to historical UA data soon - so now is the time to consider this option as part of your archiving strategy.
Utilising this blended data source feature, for instance, across paid campaign data, website personalisation and a/b split testing results, website analytics, call-tracking, and social media campaigns – gives a truer, holistic view to determine cause and effect across your digital efforts. In a nutshell, Looker Studio lets you bring all of the digital channel data you want to bear in one place, in exactly the format that you need for your own purposes and those of your stakeholders. Imagine the reports you have produced manually but with date controls and key filters like visitor channel. In addition to curating the reports to be precisely what you need, you can automate PDF versions and even add your own executive summary and thoughts on next steps for your digital strategy and campaigns.
We are seeing a huge amount of value for our client's marketing teams with this insight at their fingertips.
Google Quota issues and Supermetrics – allowing the data to flow
From November 2022, Google imposed hourly threshold restrictions in relation to GA4 analytics that are intended to encourage users to upgrade to Google Analytics 360 at a cost of £3500+ per month. In order to connect the data from Google products (and others including some social media platforms) without incurring quota issues that prevent reports being viewed, there needs to be a third-party connector in place. Appius provide the connection using Supermetrics.
We’ve been leading the charge with our clients to navigate access to these powerful features and data flows, whilst keeping an eye on ROI and mitigating over-investment. Our clients benefit from access to an agency supported model for Supermetrics, which is far more reasonable than obtaining in-house. Have you experienced quota issues that prevent you seeing Looker Studio data on an hourly basis? Depending on the complexity of your reporting and level of usage, you may need a connector like this in place.
If you want to get the most out of the reporting capabilities of these tools and others, give us a call to discuss your setup, requirements and what we can achieve. You don’t know what you don’t know, as they say, and turning data into insights that have a tangible business effect is worth knowing how to do.
Appius are a 25 year established uk full service digital agency. If you’d like to learn more about Analytics processes, what Appius and our Experience team could do for you as a career or as a service, then please get in touch.