Google Analytics and Sampled Data in Google Data Studio 360

Posted on Posted in New GA Features

Using Google Analytics and the free version of Google’s new data visualisation tool

I’ve been able to get a first look at Google’s new data visualisation tool – Data Studio 360. Forgive me if it’s a bit one-sided towards Google Analytics – that’s just what I use most frequently.

I’ve seen a lot written about the tool since its launch a couple of months back. This won’t be a prescriptive guide.  What I want to get across is my experience of using it as someone without access to GA Analytics Premium. It may seem negative at first but really I just want to be realistic about how people in the same position as me can get the most out of it.

With it being a new tool I’m sure there’s still loads to find out so feel free to point out any inaccuracies or new features I’ve missed.

Side note: In terms of how I use Google Analytics day to day the organisation I work for haven’t ponied up for GA Premium…yet. This means that due to the volume of traffic through the site I encounter data sampling on a time period of anywhere between 2-5 days.

Drawbacks

It’s not available outside of the US yet
You may have found a way around this…though you probably shouldn’t…

You’re limited to five reports in total
However, you can have up to 100 pages in each report.

Is sampling an issue for you in Google Analytics?
Well it’s an issue for you here too. Data Studio uses the same account profile as you have in GA. So if you don’t have Premium in GA then you will get sampled data in Data Studio. When I first created a report at first I was naive and impressed when I added a filter/segment and got the results back with no sampling warnings. When I ran the same report in GA I saw that the data returned was heavily sampled.

So yes I was naive in thinking that Google had allowed one of it’s key, Premium features to be provided for free. However – why no warnings?

In another post I’ll talk about how to avoid sampling in detail. But for the moment in the free version of Data Studio if you want to do anything other than pre-processed high level reports you’re going to want to check GA for the sample rate and decide if it stands up or not.

Sampled table using Google Analytics
This is using sampled data…who knew?

No option to embed
As far as I can see there’s no option to embed any Data Studio charts in other docs.

Chart customisation feels limited
I may sound harsh at this early stage. I also don’t want to take too much away from what is an amazingly powerful and connected tool. Sometimes it feels like there could be more colour and interactivity options for it to compete with Tableau or something like D3.

Summary

I believe that for small businesses with low to medium site traffic this is a real game changer. It could help in terms of moving away from Excel exports and dependencies on other third party software. I’m used to finding workarounds due to the restrictions I have in the free version of Google Analytics so I’m not too disappointed that Data Studio won’t work straight out of the box for me.

In future posts I’ll explain more about how I get around issues like data sampling. I’ll also discuss other data visualisation tools I’m exploring.

I’ve seen a good post here which summarises some of the main features of Data Studio – http://dataremixed.com/2016/07/a-first-look-at-google-data-studio/

What’s your experience of Data Studio 360 and GA (free) in general?

Summary
Sampled Data in Google Data Studio 360
Article Name
Sampled Data in Google Data Studio 360
Description
First impressions of the free version of Google's new data visualisation tool and Google Analytics.
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Wodanalysis
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