Google Data Studio: An Overview of New Features

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.
April 29, 2019


An Overview of New Features for 2019

Google’s data visualisation and reporting platform Data Studio has seen a huge number of tweaks and changes over the last year through a beta period, finally becoming generally available and free-to-use in September.

The pace of these new features, both big and small, looks to be increasing even after release, with countless updates introduced on a weekly basis the opening months of 2019. It can be tricky to keep up to speed, so we’ve picked out some of the best updates to Google Data Studio you may have missed, and how to use them.


User Interface for Graphs and Charts

While the previous year was rounded off with the addition of Community Visualisations, a tool to build your own custom charts and use those created by the community, the first Data Studio update of 2019 was a relatively simple one. The interface was updated with a new-drop down menu for selecting charts and graphs, allowing you to see exactly the type of visualisation options you have at your disposal. This small interface update goes a long way in helping to improve your reports, dashboards, and overall user experience.


Data Studio has also updated the way we can build tables and arrange widgets. Previously formatting a report was a manual process that required a focused eye, but you can now automatically distribute the data tables evenly, or ensure all data entries fit within their respective rows and columns with a few clicks on a button. Simply right click the table and select Resize Columns. You can also adjust the alignment and distribution of various widgets using similar features Align and Distribute. Align automatically lines up your selection of widgets without fuss, while Distribute ensures even gaps between element.



Advanced Date Range Selections

In the days of old, and by days of old we mean last year, Data Studio reports were locked to a fixed date range. While the user could select the dates they wanted to see, the process was a bit cumbersome, and could potentially lead to many wasted hours if you needed to updated an extensive monthly report. Thankfully, various additions to were added to Date Range options.

You can now select from a series of dynamic date options, such as “Last 7 Days”, “This Month”, “This Quarter” etc., as well the original fixed manual entry. You can also select an advanced rolling date option, allowing you to select your own ongoing dynamic dates. This is perfect for widgets that look at trends over a specific number of months, or want to show the ongoing performance of an advertising campaign.

As well as helping you to produce more dynamic and automated reports, these options also help to provide another option for comparison metrics. Previously, with fixed dates, comparisons would be based on the previous fixed number of days. Now however, we can easily make more applicable and relevant comparisons, such as Monthly, Quarterly, Year on Year, or more advanced options such as This Year To Date vs Last Year.


Paste Style Only

This is arguably our favourite new feature is another relatively simple one, but a huge time saver that can’t be overstated when it comes to formatting. You can now replicate the style of a widget without having to paste or create a second widget and adjusting the dimensions or metrics. Simply Copy the widget as usual, and then right-click on the other widget(s) you’d like to apply the visual formatting to, and click Paste Special -> Paste Style Only. Don’t forget this also copies over Heatmap distributions and other settings including decimal points.

You can use this across various types of widgets, including Scorecards, Tables, Graphs, Charts, and even Text Boxes. We highly recommend giving this one a go if you’re adding some style to your Data Studio reports.


Hide Page in View Mode

You no longer have to worry about other users seeing a dashboard change in front of them while you create your masterpiece, as you can now hide pages in a report from View mode. This is perfect for any dashboards currently in development, as this restricts the ability to see these pages to those with Edit permissions. This should be the end of many works-in-progress and draft versions cluttering your Data Studio home interface, allowing you to only publish new pages when you’re happy with them and they’re ready to go.

To hide a page, click on the Page drop-down menu at the top left of your report while in Edit mode. Next to the page you’d like to hide, click on the Options icon, and simply click “Hide page in view mode”. That page will no longer be presented to viewers looking at the report, and it will be absent from their navigation toolbars. Don’t forget that this won’t hide the page from other Editors, but perhaps that’s another feature set for down the line!


Manual Search Filters

Control over filters is one of the most important aspects of a dynamic reporting dashboard in Data Studio. Most commonly, these are found in the form of drop-down menus that allow to user to filter the data by a particular dimension, be it the Source of traffic, Country of users, or Device, to name a few. These drop-down menus are great, particularly when combining different filters, but a new Manual Search filter has been added that increases the options available to the user. This can be used to compliment the existing filters, allowing you to quickly find the Country you’d like to by for example, but these manual filters are ideal for concentrated dimensions, such as Pages or Social Posts.

If we’re looking at Google Analytics data, this Page dimension consists of every URL present on the site. Before typing in our search, we have the option to determine the parameters for our search, with the most prominent options being “Equals” and “Contains”. Note for numeric filters, you might see a different set of options including “Between” and “More/Less Than”.

Using our example of Page, if we want to view only blog articles, we simply enter “Page Contains /blog”, and the table will update to only include pages containing our search entry, just as it would in the main Google Analytics report Try grouping this filter to a specific table, and the user then has quick access to the data in that table they’re most interested in, without changing everything else on the report.


Quickfire Updates

With so many new features being introduced on a weekly basis, we would need a textbook to cover everything step-by-step, but that’s not to say we can’t briefly highlight some more updates that have also been added this year.

Schedule E-Mail Delivery: Set up automatic scheduled delivery direct to the user’s mailbox, perfect for regular reports. Simply click on the Clock icon, enter your recipients, the time of delivery, and how often you’d like this delivery to occur.

Version History: See Version History allows to see changes to a Data Studio report overtime, and crucially recover previous versions of a report. You’ll find this under the File tab when in Edit mode.

Show Sampling: You can see how Data Sampling may have affected the data in your report by clicking “Show Sampling” at the bottom left of your dashboard, next to the Privacy Policy. If you can’t see this option, then there isn’t any sampling present in the report.

Embed Videos: Entering a video destination into the URL Embed widget will automatically format this into your report as a playable video, provided the platform is supported such as YouTube.


We hope you’re enjoying the latest additions to Google Data Studio as much as we are, and we definitely recommend you check out at least a few of the updated features discussed here. If you’re interested in keeping up to date with all things Data Studio and other aspects of the Google Marketing Platform, you can also follow us on Twitter.

If you’d like to know more about any of the content in this Data Studio article, please feel free to contact us at [email protected], or leave a comment below and we’d be happy to answer any questions!




Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Enjoyed reading this article? Find more like it below…