Google Data Studio is now free so why use anything else?

February 27, 2017

Google is big. With vast resources and fingers in many pies, what Google does is a legitimate concern for many solo-preneurs, startups, and even established companies.

"What if Google does it?"

The common fear is that if Google builds a product that competes with yours it’ll probably be better. And the search giant’s huge reach and resources would kill yours in a flash.

Google recently removed the five-report limit for free users of Google Data Studio and it got us wondering whether our days are numbered…

What is Google Data Studio?

A data visualization and reporting solution that lets you build dashboards and reports, Google Data Studio has a slick UI with a drag and drop chart builder.

Despite support for MySQL and PostgreSQL databases, Google Data Studio is first and foremost a product for visualizing all the data the various Google products hold about your business.

That means Google Analytics, AdWords, Search Console, Tag Manager, YouTube Analytics and so on. As with most things Google it works best with Google products.

You can connect third party data sources (such as Facebook Analytics) through Google Sheets but, unlike Google’s own data sources, there’s no fancy dynamic updating here: you need to update the Google Sheet yourself to get an up-to-date report.

An example report from Google Data Studio

As a visual reporting tool for Google’s own products, Google Data Studio is great.

There’s one thing that stumps us though: why can’t we schedule reports?

Report automation anyone?

Yup, that’s right. You can’t schedule any reports in Google Data Studio. We weren’t the only ones to spot it:

A Google Data Studio user asks why scheduling isn't available

It seems reports can’t be scheduled because they can be shared with anyone - just like in Google Docs or Sheets.

Report can be sent to anyone but not scheduled

That seems a bit weird. QueryTree lets you share reports with anyone AND schedule them.

As someone points out later on in the thread, trying to keep everyone informed and on the same page is a difficult task.

People need information, not another password

I’m going to say what they didn’t: humans are lazy, forgetful creatures.

So while it’s fantastic that you can share the reports once via email, what happens when people need to see that report again next week or next month?

They’ll need to dig out your initial email or visit the bookmark they made for the report (if they made one) in order to see the most recent data.

Reading a scheduled report that arrives in your inbox with the most current data is much less effort than manually navigating to a URL - especially for C-level executives and team members who may not share your affinity for the report you lovingly crafted.

Reporting tools for different needs

Google Data Studio is a great tool for bringing your Google web data together in a single place with great visualizations.

But despite sharing abilities, the lack of scheduled reporting is a major feature hole in what many people see as an essential tool in reporting software.

If you want to automate essential product or business KPIs using data from your own database you’re probably best off using other tools and keeping Google Data Studio exclusively for your Google data.

There’s probably a reason for this hole but we’re not thinking “Google’s done it!” just yet.

Schedule a report right now