Hello there! Hope you’re staying safe, wherever you are in the world, reading this.
Today we will be exploring Filters in Data Studio. These filters have come a long way from just filtering data, to adding a layer of interactivity. It’s one of my favourite features in Data Studio. Without filters, a dashboard report is no more interactive than a PDF report. Even Excel reports have filters, c’mon.
Firstly, what is a filter?
A filter allows you to display your chosen data and hide unrelated spammy bits. Or, it can show you these unrelated spammy bits to let you know that your Google Analytics (or other platforms) config requires updating!
The humble filter has now been supercharged with controls. In addition to adding filters in Edit mode, controls allow users with View only access to control the data available to them.
So that means a dashboard planned and set up for long-term can be utilised with minimal back-end adjustments. No more bothering your colleagues to get you the data you needed yesterday.
What types of filters are there?
There are two types of filters:
- Display filters (static, only can be updated in Edit mode)
- Controls (dynamic, user-controlled, and works in View mode)
Top to bottom: Report filter, Page filter, Group filter, Chart filter
Top to bottom: Chart interactions, Drop-down filter, Fixed-size list, Input box, Advanced filter, Slider, Tickbox, Date range control, and Data control
The beauty of these filters is individually they work great, but the magic happens when two or more are combined in a dashboard.
Where do I find the filters?
- Report filter:
- Right-click on empty spots on the canvas > Report settings
- , and
- File > Report settings
- Page filter
- Right-click on empty spots on the canvas > Current page settings
- , and
- Page > Current page settings
- Group filter
- Select two or more charts, right click and click Group.
- These charts are now forever more grouped until Ungrouped. To Ungroup, select the chart group, right click and pick Ungroup from the menu.
- Chart filter
- Under the Data tab, usually near the bottom
In a convenient drop-down here:
Where is this magic you speak of?
Here’s how to put a magical combination together:
- Group a control + chart
- Switch on chart interactions + group two or more charts together
Here's how you can do it.
Group a control + chart
Throw together some controls and charts like this:
I’ve chosen Device Category (control) + New Users + Users (chart) to be grouped.
Switch to View mode, then pick desktop from the drop-down filter. This grouping only filters New Users and Users, leaving Sessions and Bounce Rate alone.
When grouped with a control, the control affects only the charts involved. This works best as sub-filters to explore sections, leaving the rest of the dashboard untouched.
How else can you use this?
I use this combination when a comparison is called for. For example, how did we perform this month compared with last month on mobile? How did desktop perform compared to mobile this month? Did we have fewer unrelated spammy bits since implementation last week?
If that’s not enough, it’s possible to compare against different views too! Add on a data control for each side and regroup them.
Here’s me comparing the Audience metrics of the Italian website to the Chinese.
Not only for Google Analytics, there are other solution options too. There are so many exciting possibilities that can be built with this, like reducing the number of dashboard pages because of the ability to switch between views and clients for reporting in a few clicks.
Switch on chart interactions + group two or more charts together
Events are great in Google Analytics, aren’t they? They provide so much detail for analysis and add depth to reporting. Because of this, events can run into the hundreds and it becomes time consuming to report on.
What if with a few clicks, you could view what’s under a category without editing and updating filters constantly? Yes please.
Set up three tables, one for each for Category, Action, and Label.
Check ‘Apply filter’ for all tables. Select a chart and scroll all the way down on the Data tab.
Group all the tables together, if not the whole dashboard will be filtered!
In View mode, hover over the rows on Event Category, and notice the cursor change into a hand. I’ve selected Service from the list, and it filters Event Action and Event Label tables.
Going one step further, selecting Event Action filters only Event Label. LastFM tracks what plays on our office stereo. This is how Damion checks that Blondie hasn’t been played on the office stereo*.
Another combination I like to do is group Default Channel Grouping and Source/Medium together. (Other) can often creep in on reports, and isn’t addressed immediately. If you have this in your dashboard setup, clicking on (Other) will filter the source/medium in this channel.
The rest turns into a lighter shade when (Other) is selected. Not the clearest example, but the table now displays source/medium combinations that don’t fall in Default Channel Grouping.
This certainly is not all that filters can do! This deserves a part 2 (or 3). Have fun experimenting :)
*may or may not be true.