When Data Studio introduced data blending in 2018, the game changed.
The platform went from a fun data viz tool to a reporting necessity.
Data blending lets you literally “blend” data from two sets, charts, or sources into a single visualized report.
Instead of running two visualized widgets side-by-side, you can merge the data or layer them to see how they compare.
Data blending lets you see the relationship between two datasets that normally wouldn’t fit together.
For example, if you wanted to:
For us marketers, data blending is vital for saving time and energy.
You can merge data from sources like YouTube, Google Analytics, BigQuery, Salesforce, and Shopify conversion rates into a single report.
Before data blending emerged in Data Studio, you had to manually plug your data into a single source if you wanted to merge two datasets. Now, you can blend data sources for instant insights in just a few clicks – for free.
We leverage data blending in pretty much all of our data pipelines and recipes for clients (sometimes they occur in Data Studio, other times in Sheets or BigQuery). Here’s a few examples of how we leverage data blending in practice.
Here at CIFL, we use Data Studio to track our internal portfolio of websites. Instead of having to look at every website on it’s own, we blend the data in Data Studio to look at each site in the same chart. This saves us a TON of time from having to click through to multiple reports.
When trying to analyze local SEO data, there’s no natural mapping from what happens in the SERPs to conversions on your site. Using Data Studio, you can blend SERP data with on site engagement data to get a full picture of the customer engagement.
You have 3 main methods for blending data in Data Studio. The one you pick depends on your data and what you want to accomplish with it, let’s cover each in detail.
Step 1: create new blended data
At this point, you’ve already started a new report in the Data Studio with your first dataset. In your Google Data Studio report, click on Resources in the top menu and select “manage blended data.”
Now, click on “add a data view.”
Step 2: add various data sources
Google Data Studio will open a new screen where you can choose from available or existing data sources to add to your report.
Pick the first data source you want to blend and add it to your existing report.
Step 3: add dimensions, metrics, and additional data sources
Google won’t blend everything automatically. You have to tell Data Studio which metrics, dimensions, and sources you want to add. You can drag and drop them into the sections marked “dimensions” and “metrics” from the menus. Feel free to add additional data sources from this screen too.
Step 4: review and save blend
On the right-hand side of the screen, review your details, click “save,” and close it out.
Step 5: create visualizations
Now you can choose this blended data from the Data Pane to create visualizations like charts, graphs, and more.
Step 1: create at least two visualizations from different data sources
You’ll want to start here with two identical charts or graphs containing distinct data.
Step 2: create blend data
Select all three of your visualizations, right-click, and choose “blend data.”
(This can take a few minutes depending on how much data you’re blending.)
Step 3: edit blended visualizations
Google will try its best to combine your metrics and dimensions, but it’s only human (err, bot), so you might have to make some minor adjustments.
Finally, you can also blend some new data sources into an existing report’s visualization – no need to create identical visualizations or start from scratch.
Just click on your visualization and choose “blend data” in the Data Pane.
Pick your data source, metrics, and dimensions then click save.
Data blending in Data Studio isn’t the right choice for every situation. Consider your data sources and goals along with the pros and cons below.
✅ Performance Assessment
It’s a lot easier to merge performance data from two or more sources (like YouTube and your website) into one report to find your most effective channels, for example. Without data blending in Data Studio, you must look at them side by side which doesn’t give you (or your higher-ups) the most complete picture.
✅ Data Integration
When you merge data manually, you must either create a new report or go back through and update your visualization when something changes. By letting Google Data Studio handle the data blending, updates happen automatically. You can make changes to your spreadsheet or wait for analytics to update themselves and your visualizations will reflect the changes without any effort.
✅ Faster Refresh Speeds
A ton of charts, graphs, and other visualizations in a single report contributes to super slow load times. Blending data from multiple sources into a single visualization cuts back on the refresh speed.
❌ Re-Aggregate Metrics
Data Studio isn’t without fault. Sometimes, you’ll have to go through and re-aggregate your metrics when you add custom fields to your reports from multiple data sources.
❌ Limited Data Sources
Google’s Data Studio won’t blend over five sources. If you need to merge more than five, you might want to consider investing in a paid Data Studio tool.
❌ Comparative Tool
The data blending tool in the GDS runs on a left-join base, so it isn’t the best choice for comparing historical data.
GDS might have some limitations, but it’s still one of the best free tools around for blending data from multiple sources into a single visualization – saving marketers plenty of time and stress.
If you’re looking for help setting up data blending in your viz tool of choice, drop us a line – our consultants are standing by to help.