As many answers go, it depends on your needs. But Google Data Studio is one of the best reporting third-party reporting tools available for Google Ads. In spite of being in Beta at the time of writing this post, Google Data Studio is a powerful and visually driven reporting tool that can create reports tailored to your specific needs.
Benefits of Google Data Studio
We’ll start with the obvious benefit first – it’s absolutely free. With many reporting tools requiring a monthly subscription that starts off at an entry level fee of $49 per month for 20 reports, and reaching up to $ 1299 per month for 300 client reports, creating and sending out regular reports can become an expensive exercise.
It’s highly customisable
The number of variables that you can customise are too numerous to mention, but some of the key options that we’ve found helpful are:
- Colour and image options to match your brand, or your client’s
- Filters to highlight a specific campaign’s performance
- Various chart types to make data easy to understand for clients
- If there’s a metric available in Google Ads, you can include it in your report
- Within each graph, there are various styling and data options available to meet your reporting needs
- It’s easy to change the layout and add or remove elements.
Import data from various sources
This is probably my favourite thing about Data Studio. If you’ve set up Google Analytics on your client’s website, you can import data from Analytics and Google Ads to the same report. This is extremely useful, especially if you want to report on key website metrics for your Google Ads traffic such as bounce rates, pages per session, time on page and more. Simply add Analytics to a specific chart and create a filter to only show your Google Ads traffic for that metric.
Published reports are dynamic and interactive
If you choose to share the report’s published link with your clients, they can select the date range for the Google Ads account’s performance to get historic data. If you hover over any one of the graphs, more information will be provided in a tool tip on that data point. See sample below:
Duplicating templates is easy
Once you have a set template for your clients, you can easily copy your template and link it to a new client’s data.
Draw-backs of Google Data Studio
It requires some time to understand and get used to
Though Data Studio provides some basic templates you can start off with, it isn’t a “plug and play” reporting tool that is easy to start using. Our advice is that you start with one of the templates provided (there is one for Ads) and fiddle around with the options that you have available under styling and data before using it as your go-to reporting tool. Don’t do this on the day you need to send out 20 reports though; play around well in advance and get the right layout for your company.
The data you present could be wrong
This isn’t a fault of Data Studio, but can easily occur due to human error. There are two areas where you can set the data sources on your reports: on Report Level and within a specific table or metric that you’re presenting. If you’re duplicating a template, we recommend that you check each of your charts and your report settings to ensure that the correct data source is selected.
Below is a screen grab that shows the difference between selecting data sources on report level and on chart level:
There’s no automated reporting
This isn’t necessarily a drawback if you prefer to provide insights into account performance with a strategy for the upcoming period. However, if you’re looking for a solution that will save time by automatically sending reports, this isn’t the solution for you.
There’s a limitation on how long your reports can be
If you don’t want to share your reports via a link and you’ve created a report that is more than one page long, you’ll likely find Data Studio frustrating. Printing to PDF is the only option to share the report in PDF format, and if your report is longer than a standard A4 page your report will be scaled to fit to a single page.
If you’re a small Google Ads agency who’s looking for an affordable solution to your reporting needs, Data Studio is the solution for you. Its beautiful graphics will help you look professional while presenting key metrics to your clients in an easy to understand snapshot. If you’re a larger agency, you may be more interested in alternatives such as Ads optimisation tools that provide reporting solutions, or specialised reporting solutions.