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Looker Studio: How to Use the Platform for Report Visualization

Analytics
July 3, 2024
5 mins
Content

Google Looker Studio is a free BI tool to create and view reports. It is user-friendly, quickly synchronizes data with Google services, has a clear interface, and multiple templates with dashboards.

Today, Promodo experts have told us about the Looker Studio pros and how to get started with the platform.

What You Need to Know About Looker Studio

In 2022, the online report creation tool Google Data Studio was rebranded to Looker Studio. The platform’s uniqueness is in integrating with other popular Google services, including Google Analytics, Google Sheets, BigQuery, Campaign Manager 360, and Google Search Console among others. 

Looker Studio is a free program. All you need to get started is a Google account and the data you want to visualize.

In 2023, Looker Studio expanded to the Pro version with several new features we'll describe below and tell you whether it's worth buying a paid subscription.

Key Advantages of Looker Studio

Access to Data Sources

As part of the Google ecosystem, you can quickly get data from synchronized analytics systems GA4 or Google Ads, partner platforms including connectors to popular Facebook, Instagram, X, LinkedIn, Shopify, and over 900 others. You may also download data in the CSV format that will be stored in Google Cloud Storage.

Connectors allowing you to download data from social networks and other platforms to Looker Studio make this BI tool convenient for multiple experts. You may analyze your ad campaigns, website landing pages, and social networks, and prepare a personalized report on the core KPIs.

Customization & Interactivity

Once you've added your data, you can create the entire report with a personalized design. Choose from a variety of charts - from tables to scorecards to pie charts, and then customize your metrics.

You can also add various viewing tools to the report, including periods, countries, and devices. This is how a person who views the report can analyze specific data in real-time and compare it.

Data Updates 

Looker Studio entails updates of data you're already using in your report. Various data sources have their timer for updating - once per hour, once a day, or according to specified settings. If you need to pull the updated data into your report quickly, click the Refresh Data button.

Shared Editing & Access

You can share your report with other users in a Google Docs-like manner and provide them with viewing or editing rights. This way, you and your teammates can work on the same report simultaneously and share it with other peers by adding their email or copying the link to the report.

You can also download the report, embed it on your website, or schedule an email distribution.

What Looker Studio Pro Offers

‍One of the main pros of the paid version is access to support and advanced administration features, including access control functions at the level of individual users and groups. You will also be able to view data using the Looker Studio mobile app - this feature is not available in the free version of the subscription.

‍Among other additional features:

  • Advanced tools for teamwork
  • Automatic reporting options
  • More integrations with various data sources, including non-Google platforms
  • Fast data processing and integration with Google Cloud

Looker Studio Pro starts at $9 per month per user on the baseline plan.

Benefits of Looker Studio Pro
Looker Studio Pro

How to Use Looker Studio

Go to the Looker Studio website and sign in with your Google account.

You can create a report using the "Blank report" or "Create" button in the left corner of the screen

The Create button gives you several options at once: create a report, source, or overview. These functions are also available in the horizontal menu.

When you choose a new report, Looker Studio will create a new page. You will need to select a data source from Google or other connectors

You may also choose one of the ready-made templates, connect your data to it, and edit it - change icons, and colors, delete and add labels. In addition to the basic templates inside the program, you can use ready-made templates and icons for visualization from the Looker Studio Gallery. These are additional free tools created by the community.

You may adapt your report to the following templates:

  • Google Ads Discovery Performance Insights
  • Digital analytics for eCommerce
  • Conversion report by sales funnel
  • ROAS report, and others.

How to Create a Report

Once you have chosen to create a new report, Looker Studio will ask you to select data to work with from a specific system like Google Analytics and your account. 

A new window with one general table will open. This is where we start our work. The tool menu has separate sections:  Edit, View, Paste, and a shortcut bar. Mostly, you'll work with the Add Chart button, though you can also add additional data and create a new page.

You may also use shared charts. To do this, just click the button next to "Add a chart" and go to the components created by other users. The same horizontal menu offers tools to create text, add photos and links (i.e. you may embed a YouTube video in your report), and change the report layout and visual design.

Another useful feature is Controls. These are filters that allow users viewing the report to filter information by date, parameters, search queries, etc. You can select the most needed elements.

What to Do with Completed Reports

You can share your finished report in several ways:

  • Provide access to the report via email. Important: provide users with proper rights by indicating whether they can edit the report or only view it.
  • Schedule the mailing. You also need to add the recipient's email addresses and set the time of sending and the frequency of the mailing (for example, daily, monthly, or according to an individual schedule). You can also select the pages you want to share if the report has more than one page, set a subject line, and additional fork text.
  • Embed the report.
  • Share the link to the report providing that the users to whom you are sending the link already have access to the shared file and can view the report.
  • Download the finished report in PDF format. You can choose the number of pages, as well as additional settings: add a link to the report, protect it with a password, and ignore the special background.‍

Disadvantages of Google Looker Studio

Despite its user-friendly design and the ability to work through the free version, Looker Studio has a few drawbacks.

Data limitations. You can combine up to five sources in one report, which may not be enough for large companies that work with large amounts of data.

Slow processing speed. Since Looker Studio relies on various APIs to retrieve data, the platform can delay data processing and loading times (for large datasets).

Visualization limitations. You can only place 50 charts on one page and 20 widgets per dashboard. This may be enough for most people, but it is still a limitation.

MySQL connector limitations. The MySQL connector in Looker Studio has a query limit of 150,000 rows while exceeding this limit results in data reduction.

Paid connectors. We have already mentioned that all Google connectors are free of charge, though once you want to use a partner connector, you’ll have to pay for it.‍

Conclusions

The basic version of Looker Studio is sufficient to visualize reports. It's free and has full integration with other Google apps. You don't need to have deep technical knowledge to create your first report - Looker Studio interface and settings are clear and easy to use. That's why professionals across various fields use this tool to process analytical data.

Need Help with Looker Studio?
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Written by
Dayana Danyliuk

Journalist at Promodo


For over 4 years, I have been working as a journalist in the communications and marketing industry. I help brands communicate effectively through written content, engage with market experts, and create professional materials on topics related to business and marketing, sharing insights on working with marketing tools.

Published:
July 3, 2024
Updated:
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