What exactly has changed since that name update? What are the pros and cons of this supposedly new and improved data visualization tool? Is it a good choice for you and your team?
To find answers to these and other common questions, check out this straight talk review. Below, you’ll learn more about Looker Studio and its features and discover some of its most significant pros and cons.
What Is Looker Studio?
Google describes Looker Studio as a self-service business intelligence solution. It offers “unmatched flexibility” and helps professionals make “smarter business decisions.”
Google also claims that this revitalized tool can assist with a variety of business intelligence and data analysis-related tasks, including the following:
- Creating engaging reports and data visualizations for impactful storytelling
- Uniting data by connecting to over 800 data sources
- Transforming data into compelling metrics and dimensions
- Empowering teams with critical business metrics shared across automated dashboards
- Creating meaningful, shareable, and customizable charts and graphs
When the company introduced Looker Studio last year, they explained that they were unifying all business intelligence products under “the Looker umbrella.”
The new solution combines elements of Looker and Data Studio, as well as core Google technologies, such as artificial intelligence and machine learning.
Looker Studio Features
Whether you’re a former user of Looker or Data Studio or have never heard of these tools, you’re likely wondering what you can expect from Looker Studio.
The following are some of the tool’s key features:
- Easy-to-use web interface, including convenient drag-and-drop features
- A robust library of report templates for efficient data visualization
- Data connectors, which connect Looker Studio reports to underlying data for easy access and use
- Looker Studio API, which allows Google Workspace and Cloud Identity organizations to automate Looker Studio asset management and migration
- Report embedding to include Looker Studio reports in any web page or intranet.
Many of Looker Studio’s key features can be accessed at no charge to the user. However, a paid version -- Looker Studio Pro -- is also available to those seeking enterprise management features, team collaboration capabilities, and service-level agreements (SLAs).
Free vs. Paid Versions
Not sure if you need the free or paid version? Google lists the following as specific differences between Looker Studio and Looker Studio Pro:
- Manage Content at Scale: Looker Studio Pros lets you manage access to content at scale with features like team workspaces and Google Cloud project linking.
- Improve Collaboration: Team workspaces allow for easy collaboration; members of these workspaces get automatic access to content, and specific permissions can be granted to managers, content managers, and contributors.
- Easier Asset Management: Organizations can manage assets through linked Google Cloud projects; reports and data sources belong to the organization instead of individual users.
- Add Multiple Delivery Schedules: Looker Studio Pro users can add up to 20 email delivery schedules to each report; each schedule can have unique settings and go to different recipients.
- Access Customer Support: Looker Studio Pro users have access to Google Cloud Customer Care support services.
No pricing information is directly available online. Those who are interested in paying for Looker Studio Pro must contact a Google sales rep to discuss the cost.
Looker Studio Pros
Looker Studio offers many benefits for business intelligence professionals seeking more sophisticated data analytics and visualization tools. The following are some of the most important advantages to consider:
If you’re working with a tight budget, you can’t do much better than a free tool, right?
The basic version of Looker Studio is free, and it still offers plenty of features that streamline your data visualization and reporting efforts. It will work perfectly well for most small teams, meaning you won’t have to worry about missing out on the paid version’s features.
Intuitive Dashboard and Report Creation
Looker Studio is designed to help users get more from their data by creating interactive dashboards and engaging reports. It boasts an intuitive and easy-to-use layout with drag-and-drop features, which can help to reduce the learning curve and get users up to speed sooner.
It doesn’t matter if you need to create a report or graph quickly before a big meeting or just have other things that are higher on your priority list. Looker Studio can help with its variety of convenient templates. These templates help to speed up the process and increase your and your team’s productivity.
Versatile and Customizable
While many users appreciate the convenience of its templates, several others also like its versatility and customization options.
Look Studio allows users to choose from various fonts and colors to personalize reports and align them with other branding elements.
Access to Numerous Data Sources
With Looker Studio, you can access a wide range of data sources from hundreds of partner connectors, including resources from Amazon, Ahrefs, Semrush, Facebook ads, and LinkedIn ads. This feature lets you connect data almost instantly without coding or additional software.
Convenient Report Sharing
Looker Studio users can share reports with team members and colleagues or clients across the globe. They can even embed reports on the web to expand their reach further.
The Pro version also allows additional collaboration features to help larger teams stay informed and work together seamlessly.
Easy Integration with Google Platforms
As a Google product, Looker Studio integrates easily with many other popular Google products, including Google Ads, BigQuery, Google Display & Video 360, YouTube Analytics, and Google Analytics 4.
For teams that already use Google platforms, the adoption of Looker Studio will likely be relatively simple and intuitive.
Data Governance Assistance
Looker Studio offers several data governance features for those with compliance concerns. These features help you protect your business by ensuring all data is accurate, secure, and compliant with the GDPR, CCPA, and other critical regulations.
Looker Studio Cons
Like any tool, Looker Studio also has some potential downsides. Consider the following before deciding if it’s the right option for you:
Lack of Transparent Pricing
Its basic version is free. However, it also comes with a paid version: Looker Studio Pro.
Looker Studio Pro is geared toward those seeking enterprise-level features. It may be a good choice for larger teams and organizations, as well as those with extensive collaboration and reporting needs.
Google currently doesn’t offer any pricing information for the pro version, so it’s hard to know what you can expect to pay without contacting a sales rep first.
Looker Add-On Integrations Are Priced Individually
Although they offer some free integrations, many others can only be used if you pay for them. Add-on integration prices vary significantly depending on the provider.
If you just need one or two, the price probably isn’t a deal breaker. However, if you need several integration add-ons, you could end up spending several hundred dollars per month on a tool that is supposed to cost you nothing.
Looker Limited Customer Support
If you’re a free Looker Studio user, your support resources are fairly limited (although there are plenty of online guides and communities that can offer advice).
Looker Studio Pro users get access to Google Cloud Customer Care support services, which makes it easier for them to get the help they need. However, some users have complained about long wait times, which could be problematic when working on time-sensitive projects.
May Be Challenging for Larger Organizations
Large organizations may struggle to get by with the free version of Looker Studio. Upgrading to the paid version may be necessary, and the cost of that upgrade may not be suitable for all businesses.
Some users have noted that Looker Studio can lag at times, particularly when working on larger projects. Although the lagging doesn’t seem to be a deal-breaker, it’s hopefully something that Google’s developers will work out sooner rather than later.
Bottom Line -- Is Looker Studio Worth It?
Now that you have a better understanding of the advantages and disadvantages of Looker Studio, what’s your verdict? Is it worth it to start using Looker Studio?
It is an affordable option that aims to simplify data visualization and help users create graphics and reports faster. It also offers a variety of templates to speed things up even more, making it a good choice for users who value efficiency and want an intuitive, easy-to-navigate tool.
Because it is a Google product, it’s also a good choice for current Google Platform users since it integrates easily with those tools.
Although a version of Looker Studio is available for free, it might not be sufficient for larger organizations that create lots of reports and need more scalable solutions. That’s where Looker Studio Pro comes in.
Looker Studio Pro requires a subscription -- and there’s no pricing data readily available, meaning you have to contact a salesperson to get a quote. Add-on integrations are also priced individually, so you may end up spending quite a bit depending on your specific needs.
How Can DashboardFox Help?
To put it in plain terms, DashboardFox is an alternative to Looker Studio, that may be a better fit depending on your requirements.
Similar to Looker Studio, DashboardFox is also a self-service business intelligence tool. But DashboardFox does have a few key differences to Looker Studio that may make it a better fit for your team.
DashboardFox is self-hosted. Organizations that don’t want to tie into the Google Cloud and make their data accessible to a 3rd party vendor can have all the benefits of self-service BI with DashboardFox. For security and privacy-focused organizations, DashboardFox could be a better fit.
DashboardFox includes the enterprise features that come at a steep price with Looker Studio Pro. With DashboardFox, you pay once, and can use forever, no monthly or annual subscription fees. For enterprise customers and budget-focused organizations, DashboardFox could be a better fit.
DashboardFox supports branding and on-premise deployments. Consultants and agencies have an option to leave a set of reports and dashboards to their customers, without requiring customers to create accounts and relationships with Google. For brand-focused organizations, DashboardFox could be a better fit.
You can maintain control of your customer relationships by using DashboardFox (and if you are looking for white label embedded analytics, check out our product designed for that, Yurbi).
Additionally, DashboardFox's exceptional customer service and concierge level support make it a good choice for businesses looking for an easy-to-use business intelligence tool.
There’s a lot more we can say, but we hope you’re curious to know more at this point, so allow us to indulge you with more information. Book a meeting with us or try some of the features in action with our free live demo sessions.