When Google Data Studio was first introduced in 2016, it immediately captured the attention of online agencies and organisations. In particular for those already using the Google 360 suite. With it’s seamless integration with Google Analytics, Google Adwords, and other Google products, Google Data Studio quickly entered the shortlist of data visualisation tools.
Does the recent price drop (from appr. 18.000 dollar per year to zero) mean it will become the default choice for agencies? We are not sure about that.
In our recent (qualitative) market study we interviewed the decision makers from 50 Dutch online agencies. We asked them which analysis and reporting tools they used (or planned to use) to inform their clients. We found that Google Data Studio, although frequently high on the shortlist, has fierce competition from Klipfolio, a Canada based online dashboard platform for building powerful real-time business dashboard. In a significant amount of cases, both tools where being used side by side. This makes sense when you look at the differences between both tools.
When making a choice for a particular dashboard/visualisation platform, the agencies based their decisions roughly on the following criteria:
- Data sources & channels
- Learning curve
- Amount of data per client (as in a small amount or a large amount)
- Features and Look & feel
When to choose Google Data Studio vs Klipfolio
Datasources & channels: Toss up
Agencies that primarily used Google Products and Google Advertising channels tended to opt for Google Data Studio. Those who frequently used other channels favoured Klipfolio, because of the plethora of data connections and open infrastructure. Some still opted for Google Data Studio and added non-Google data using tools like Supermetrics. We received mixed feedback on this combination.
Learning curve: Google Data Studio
Agencies told us that Google Data Studio, in general, is easier to get started with and easier to learn. The powerful formula engine in Klipfolio has a lot to offer, although the formula’s can get pretty complex. This makes it harder to master. On the other hand, Google Data Studio is easier to learn because it has less options. For instance, it is not possible to use multiple datasources in one dashboard, unless you combine those sources beforehand.
From a wireframe point of view, the flexibility is about on par. Both platforms offer a flexible canvas to draw tables, graphs and numbers, etc. But from a data point view, Klipfolio was a clear winner. The possibility to connect multiple datasources, to combine these sources using formula’s and finally to present this combined data in one or more graphs is a key elements that puts Google Data Studio behind.
Klipfolio’s data connection and integration library basically makes it possible to present all the data you want to present.
This is a feature from Klipfolio that is hard to beat by Google Data Studio, unless you manage and process your data before you make it available in Google Data Studio. Even for larger agencies proper data management caused challenges in terms of skills and capacity.
When it comes to scalability, Klipfolio is the Tom Dumoulin of dashboards. With it’s flexible api it is possible to copy/paste and deploy many dashboards really fast in a very short period of time. For example, last week we delivered 20 dashboards (with a total of 65 tabs) to 70 users in one day (mostly processing time). Like Tom Dumoulin, it takes some time to get up to that level of speed, but once there, Klipfolio is very powerful.
This level of scalability is hard to imagine with Google Data Studio. Agencies that need scalability therefore preferred Klipfolio. And this is one of the main reasons for agencies to use both platforms, side by side. For custom built dashboards (based on Google data sources) they opt for Google Data Studio. For template based, larger scale deployment, they prefer Klipfolio.
Amount of data: Google Data Studio
With the ability to store, process and deliver (very) large datasets, it’s obvious that Google has no real competition from Klipfolio. Not to mention the speed with which Google can do this. Agencies that work with large datasets currently have no choice but to go for Google Data Studio. Putting a smart data management layer in between the source of the data and Klipfolio could help, though.
Features and Look & Feel: Klipfolio
As with any product comparison, it just depends on your needs. With the Klipfolio Klip Gallery, the Data connections, the visualisations, styling options and even white label options, Klipfolio has a lot more to offer agencies that wish to spoil their clients. Google Data Studio is no match for Klipfolio when it comes to features. Also, it’s a lot easier to make Klipfolio look good than it is to make Google Data Studio look the same. For instance, Google Data Studio does not offer a TV / full screen mode to show it on a big screen on the wall. And it will not automatically stay up to date like Klipfolio does, so there is no point in trying.
Looking at features and look & feel Klipfolio feels like a mature product, where Google Data Studio still feels ‘in beta’.
In our survey, we found that agencies that are more marketing driven preferred the look & feel of Klipfolio, while agencies that focused more on data analysis (and cared less for how it looks) preferred Google Data Studio.
Costs: Google Data Studio
It’s hard for a paid product to compete with a free alternative. So in a way it pretty impressive that Klipfolio is doing what it’s doing. But one should take into account that Klipfolio is a mature product, Google Data Studio isn’t (yet). And who knows what Google’s future pricing will be.
Some agencies expressed their doubt about Googles future pricing model. One of the respondents asked himself “if Google Data Studio stays free forever or will they move to a freemium model: a paid version and a free, yet scaled down, product?”
It’s clear that Google Data Studio’s drop in price changed the landscape. It’s native integration with Google data sources and the speed and power of BigQuery puts it on top of the short list for many agencies. But agencies that need more than just Google Data sources, that wish a better looking, more mature and more scalable solution rightfully prefer Klipfolio.
Read part 2 of the blog here: Google Data Studio vs Klipfolio – Measurecamp.