Comparison Metrics in Data Studio

Written by Conor Ross

Conor specialises in data visualisation, designing and creating bespoke data dashboards and automated reports with Google Data Studio. With a background in Psychology and Research Methods, he also works on projects focused on improving customer experience and website usability through A/B Testing and Personalisation in Google Optimize.
July 11, 2019
  Google Data Studio: Comparison Metrics Google Data Studio is a brilliant way of presenting the most relevant data from any source, in a way that’s easy to understand, interpret, and share.  Whether it’s Google Analytics, Paid Advertising Campaigns, or Social Channels, a fully customisable report allows for comparisons to be made based on historical data or between two distinct data sources. One thing to be mindful of in Data Studio is that, by default, the comparison metrics available may not immediately represent the nature of the comparison you are trying to highlight. Take for example for the metric of Bounce Rate, the percentage of single page visits without a meaningful action. To say that Bounce Rate has improved, the percentage has decreased. In Google Analytics, this decrease will be displayed as a positive change and show the comparison with a green colour, because it considers the nature of the comparison metric. Conversely, if the Bounce Rate increases, the value will show in red.   Style: Changing Comparison Metrics This is not the case in Google Data Studio, where any instance of a metric returning a higher number than the comparative data is shown as a green increase. This is counterintuitive for our example of Bounce Rate, as the Bounce Rate increasing in magnitude is a negative change, and should be displayed in red. Thankfully, this can be quickly and easily changed in the Style menus when editing a widget! To change the colour of a comparison metric, click on the Widget while in Edit Mode and you will see two tabs appear on the right: Data & Style. In the Style menu, there is a section dedicated to the Comparison Metric of your widget. Here, you can change the colour of comparative increases and decreases, as well as showing the absolute change rather than the percentage change, or showing the comparison label which highlights the exact time period the comparison is based on.   Three Distinct Metrics: Clicks, Cost-Per-Click, and Cost Let’s look at an example of three frequently used metrics for PPC Campaigns: Number of Clicks, Average Cost-Per-Click, and the Total Cost. Here we have three distinct metrics, in which the nature of comparisons vary. For Clicks, it is a positive to see an increase in this number. However for Avg. CPC, ideally we would like to see this value reduce. Finally, for the total Cost, it may not be indicative of a positive or a negative change in performance that the Cost is different from a previous period. We can change these comparison metrics using the Style menu.   Small Updates Lead To Big Improvements These are all important features when it comes to presenting your data on a dashboard that is easy to understand for those who view it. The nature of comparisons may change, and it may be better to show absolute change instead of percentage change, particularly for metrics that regularly show a lower value, or when already dealing with percentages, to avoid any erratic figures or confusing figures. Customising a Data Studio report is an important process towards building and optimising a unique dashboard for your data. These features, including Comparison Metrics, Absolute Change and Comparison Labels may be small aspects of a larger report, but ensuring they are presenting the data in an intuitive and easy to understand way can make a significant difference towards reliable and effective data visualisation.   If you’re having trouble with comparison metrics, or any other features in Google Data Studio, please feel free to leave a comment or contact us and we’d be happy to help. You can find more guides and articles for all things Digital Analytics in our blog section, or you can also follow us on Twitter.


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