Data Studio recently had a new feature unveiled that allow you to do data blending on multiple separate data sources, so that you can combine and visualize your data in new ways that were not possible before. This guide will cover the technical aspects of the feature - what it does and and doesn't do - as well as how to use it with Supermetrics to solve a common issue user run into.
Quick links to specific sections:
- How Does It Work and How to Set It Up?
- What Does it Not Do?/Limitations
- Example Use Case with Supermetrics
How Does It Work and How to Set It Up?
The new data blending feature allows you to join up to 5 data sources to build one single graph/table/chart. You select a shared field in each source to use as a "join key", like you would if setting up a database join, and then select one or more fields to display from that source. For those familiar with databases, this is a left outer join operation, so everything in the first data source will be shown, and only those with the key in second data source.
For more information and up-to-date instructions on how to use the data blending feature, please see the Data Studio help guides:
What Does it Not Do?/Limitations
There are some limitations noted in the documentation for the blending feature:
- Blended data sources belong to the report they were created in. You can't use them the same way you can normal data source, BUT you can copy the report element that uses the blended sources and paste it into the new report.
- You can only set up to 5 total sources (this can include reusing the same source) per blend.
- Calculated fields in blended sources ARE SUPPORTED NOW - but are done on the chart-level. See this for more information: Chart-specific calculated fields
In addition, based on how the blend works, it does not sum/combine the values from different sources (even if the same field name!), so it cannot be used create a type of summed value from different sources. For this you may need to use our "Ad Data + Google Analytics" connector as this can sum the different sources it supports.
Example Use Case with Supermetrics
This example of how to use the data blending feature with Supermetrics connectors tackles a common issue users of the Facebook Insights run into - the date range restrictions on Reach metrics. Before, you could only show in a single report element one of the date ranges (1-day, 7-day, or 28-day), but using the magic of the data blending feature, we can work around this and create a single table that shows all three values at once. This is useful too for other connectors that don't normally allow certain combinations of fields, as you can set up the blend to individually query the parts of the illegal combination and get the unified chart.
In the past, if you wanted to display fields that couldn't be combined together, you had to make individual elements for them:
But this can be used as a starting point with data blending to create a new, unified table. One of the ways to set up data blending is to select the existing separate elements you want to use.
- Select each scorecard/report object you want to use as part of the blend (note that you cannot reuse an element that was already selected for another blending). The first object selected will be the left-most part source listed in the blending UI.
- Right-click on one of the report objects selected, and select Blend data from the menu.
- This will both create a new report element that will use this blended source and bring up the blending configuration panel, which looks like this based on the 3 total reach elements that were selected:
- Note that the "join keys" field is missing a value, and this won't work yet until a key value is selected that will unify these together. The new element will show an error until the configuration is completed. Also note each data source is showing their own date range, which was taken from the original report elements.
- Also see that the new report element was created as a "Scorecard" and crammed up with the others, so that needs to be moved down and changed to the "table" type.
- One dimension that will be shared with all of these copies of the Facebook Insights data source is the Page Name. So the "join key" will be set to that value:
- Click SAVE and then click X CLOSE to leave the configuration pane.
- The report element may require additional changes to have it work with the blended data source. Here the dimension needs to be set to "Page Name" just as if it has been a normal data source that we changed on an existing element.
- Once this is changed, the table updates to show the Page Name (which was the key to bind everything) and the 3 different reach values for different time periods that metric works for:
- There's one one update that would make this even better, as the current headers on the table are confusing to someone who didn't build the report. So click on the edit icon for the data source to open the blending configuration pane again:
- Then click on the side section of the fields in each source to get the option to rename the field:
- Repeat for the remain 2 fields, updating the name to show the period for the reach value. Then click SAVE.
- The table will now update to show the custom labels, making it more clear what those items are:
As the feature is very new at the time of this article's creation, there may be some bugs and odd behaviors that arise. If the issue is with the setup or with the data blending UI, it's likely an issue Google needs to resolve and you should report it to the Data Studio user forums.
If there's issues with the data from the Supermetrics connectors that is not due to configuration or the left outer join behavior of the blending feature, please submit a support request with the details so that we can investigate.