Intro to Data Studio

Data Studio is Google’s highly-customizable data visualization platform. It is (as of this writing) free to use, it’s easier than more advanced tools to get the hang of, and it allows marketers to create interactive dashboards that can pull data from a huge number of sources.

Examples of commonly used sources include: Facebook Ads, LinkedIn Ads, Google Ads, Google Sheets, Google Analytics, BigQuery, and Google Cloud Storage. Beyond those useful direct integrations, for more advanced needs, it also allows for API connections with common business apps like Salesforce CRM where deeper marketing data lives.

Long story short, it’s a one-stop-shop for data visualization across multiple sources – which makes it perfect for digital ad reporting. That, along with its rapid adoption by marketers and speedy development by Google, is why Metric Theory uses it as the front-end of our performance reporting suite, Compass.


Visualization Tools: Basic

Data Studio offers a plethora of visualization options, many of which you are probably already familiar with.

  • Charts
    • Bar charts
    • Pie charts
    • Line charts
    • Time series charts
    • Sparkline charts
    • Area charts
    • Scatter charts
  • Tables
    • Tables with bars
    • Table with heat maps
  • Heat Maps
  • Scorecards
  • Geo Maps


With 33 standard visualization elements built-in, there’s no doubt that you’ll be able to find an impactful way to display your data.

Visualization Techniques

For advanced data visualization practitioners, Google Data Studio’s options probably won’t sound very exciting, but with the combination of those options and the available marketing data connectors, the range of options for casual reporting enthusiasts to tell a story with your data is huge. Here are a few of my personal favorites:

Example 1: Geo Heatmaps

Geographic charts provide an easy and compelling way to visualize KPI measurement and differentials, making it easy for report viewers to compare across a geographic area. These are fantastic for advertisers who are looking to understand distribution of spend, conversion metrics, or interest (or any other metric in your data set) across regional markets.

Data Source: Google Analytics
Visualization Objective: Regional overview of sitewide event registrations


These maps are particularly useful when paired with drill-down functionality that allows report viewers to instantly jump between different levels of granularity, such as:

  • Continent
  • Sub-continent
  • Country
  • Region
  • City

Example 2: Decision Tree Scorecards

Scorecards are designed to highlight a single metric. We’re fans of using multiple scorecards to display our primary efficiency KPI along with the informing variables that provide a quick snapshot of program performance for the viewer without the clutter of other table elements.

Data Source: Google Analytics & Paid Ad Platform Data (Facebook, Google, etc.)
Visualization Objective: Step-wise understanding of causal metric behind performance trends


This is a particular favorite of mine as a data-driven marketer (read: data nerd). One of the things that separates us as a performance marketing agency is our thorough understanding of how strategic adjustments impact down-funnel success for the brands we work with, and also understanding how to best turn dials or focus strategy to influence performance. Decision trees are a fantastic visual of how Metric Theorist brains operate when doing this day-to-day.

Example 3: Bullet Charts

Bullet charts provide a clear measurement of a given KPI against its target. You may be familiar with this style of chart if you’ve ever run or participated in fundraising.

Data Source: Channel (Facebook, LinkedIn, Google)
Visualization Goal: Progress toward a volume goal

Every single client we work with has a goal. Maybe it’s a 3.0 ROAS, maybe it’s 2,000 new leads for the sales team…either way, that goal is our guiding light every day. What better way to keep that goal top of mind than with a bullet chart? Add one to the top of your reporting tab for a little dose of motivation everyday.



Data studio is a tool that anyone can use, even without a rockstar development team like we have (shoutout to our team). The sheer number of possible data integrations and built-in visualizations allows any marketer to build a robust story and make information more accessible to all parts of their organization. Oh, and if you’d like to see what it’s like to have a bunch of competitive data nerds run your ads, contact us!