Google Data Studio
Google Looker

Google Data Studio vs Looker: An In-Depth Comparison

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    Choosing the right business intelligence tool is crucial for effective data analysis and reporting. Google Data Studio and Google Looker are two prominent options, each with unique features and use cases.

    This comparison will highlight the key differences between Google Data Studio's visualization capabilities and Google Looker's advanced data exploration tools. We'll consider ease of use, customization, and collaboration features to help you make an informed decision.

    In addition to these two platforms, we'll explore how Sourcetable offers a modernized, spreadsheet-like interface that syncs with your data, serving as an alternative to Google Data Studio or Google Looker for business intelligence tasks like reporting and data analytics.

    Google Data Studio

    What is Google Data Studio?

    • Overview

      Google Data Studio is a business intelligence tool designed to transform raw data into strategic information. It serves as a free business analytics tool within the Google Marketing Platform toolkit.

    • Functionality

      This tool is essential in digital marketing for the creation of dashboards that analyze and present strategy results. Its integration capability with other platforms enhances its analytical power.

    • Usage

      Dashboards created with Google Data Studio facilitate the analysis and presentation of data, streamlining the decision-making process in marketing strategies.

    Google Looker

    What is Google Looker?

    Google Looker is a business intelligence platform that is part of the Google Cloud product suite. It provides a self-service and governed BI environment, enabling users to access, analyze, and act on their data. As a cloud-based platform, it offers the flexibility of online data management and application development.

    • Key Features

    • Allows delivery of data experiences.
    • Enables chatting with business data for insights.
    • Supports the use of generative AI for building data-powered applications.
    • Facilitates the building of custom applications with trusted metrics.
    • Compatible with existing BI environments through Looker modeling.
    • Google Looker stands out as a platform that integrates advanced analytics with custom application development, offering a comprehensive tool for data-driven decision-making within organizations.

    Google Data Studio

    Key Features of Google Data Studio


    Google Data Studio boasts a suite of 23 features categorized into five main types, offering users a comprehensive toolkit for data visualization and reporting.

    Categories of Features

  • Ad Hoc Reporting
  • Collaboration Tools
  • Customizable Branding
  • Customizable Dashboards
  • Customizable Reports
  • Core Functionality

  • Dashboard Creation
  • API Access
  • Access Controls/Permissions
  • Ad Hoc Query
  • Activity Dashboard
  • Alerts/Notifications
  • Audit Management
  • Google Looker

    Google Looker Features

    Business Intelligence Capabilities

    Looker is a robust business intelligence (BI) tool that offers enterprise-class features to process and analyze data for actionable insights. It simplifies the creation of reports and dashboards, enhancing decision-making processes.

    Real-Time Data Access and Governance

    Looker provides a fresh, consistent, and governed view of data in real-time, ensuring reliability and accuracy for its users. It supports multiple clouds, granting flexibility in data access and management.

    Integrated Data Modeling with LookML

    Central to Looker's platform is LookML, a SQL-based modeling language that allows analysts to define and manage business rules. Looker's data model is version-controlled with Git, promoting collaboration and consistency.

    Seamless Integration and Analysis Tools

  • Integration with Looker Studio enables users to connect to Looker's semantic model for comprehensive data analysis, exploration, and visualization.
  • Looker's integration within the Google Cloud portfolio and console allows for a unified user experience and accessibility within Google Cloud's ecosystem.
  • Extensibility and Customization

    With robust APIs and prebuilt integrations, Looker extends its functionality and allows for proactive insights within the workflows where users operate.

    Cloud-First Infrastructure

    As a core Google Cloud product, Looker benefits from the scalability, security, and performance of Google Cloud infrastructure, and is readily available as a Google Cloud service.

    Google Data Studio

    Advantages of Google Data Studio for Business Intelligence

    Cloud-Based and Managed

    Google Data Studio's cloud-based nature ensures that users can access their dashboards and reports from anywhere, at any time. Being a fully managed service, it reduces the need for in-house maintenance and IT resources.

    Integration with Google Applications

    Its tight integration with Google applications like Google Ads, Analytics, and Sheets streamlines data analysis and reporting for businesses heavily invested in the Google ecosystem.

    User-Friendly Interface

    The platform's ease of use is attributed to its intuitive user interface, which simplifies the creation and sharing of reports, making it accessible for users with varying levels of technical expertise.

    Access Control

    Granular access controls allow businesses to manage data permissions effectively, ensuring that sensitive information is only accessible to authorized personnel.


    As a free tool, Google Data Studio provides a cost-effective solution for businesses looking to perform data analytics and reporting without additional software expenses.

    Real-Time Data and Blending

    Support for live connections to data sources guarantees up-to-date information, while its data blending capabilities enable comprehensive analysis across multiple data streams.


    Google Data Studio is particularly beneficial for users who rely on Google services and for those who require straightforward, uncomplicated dashboards for their business intelligence needs.

    Google Data Studio

    Disadvantages of Google Data Studio for Business Intelligence

    Time-Consuming Report Creation

    Creating reports in Google Data Studio is a lengthy process, hindering efficiency.

    Lack of Real-Time Data Updates

    Google Data Studio's dashboards do not update in real-time, leading to potential delays in decision-making.

    Restricted Visualization Options

    The platform offers a limited range of charts and interactive elements, limiting the depth of data analysis.

    Insufficient Data Connections

    Users face limitations in data connections, which can restrict the breadth of data sources accessible for reporting.

    Performance Issues with Multiple Data Sources

    Performance degradation occurs when numerous data sources are integrated, causing Google Data Studio to break.

    Complex Visualizations Not Supported

    There is no support for complex visualizations, which can be a significant drawback for advanced data analytics.

    Reliance on External Data Tools

    Google Data Studio can only report on data that it pulls from other tools, which may necessitate additional software for data gathering.

    Google Data Studio

    Frequently Asked Questions About Google Data Studio

    What is Google Data Studio?

    Google Data Studio is a free Business Intelligence software that is more similar to tools like Tableau, Looker, and Power BI, and is designed for transforming data for various use cases.

    How does Google Data Studio differ from other data visualization tools?

    Unlike typical data visualization tools that only visualize data, Google Data Studio is a Business Intelligence tool that transforms data, making it more akin to Tableau, Looker, and Power BI.

    Is Google Data Studio suitable for digital marketing reporting?

    Yes, Google Data Studio is particularly good for digital marketing reporting due to its ability to transform and visualize data effectively.

    How user-friendly is Google Data Studio for non-technical users?

    Google Data Studio is considered easy to learn for non-technical users, thanks to its intuitive drag-and-drop interface.

    What is the cost of using Google Data Studio?

    Google Data Studio is free to use.

    Use Cases for Google Data Studio

    • Google Data Studio


    • Google Data Studio

      Building Dashboards

    • Google Data Studio

      Blending Looker-governed data with data from over 500 sources to generate insights

    Google Looker

    Advantages of Google Looker for Business Intelligence

    Data Exploration and Visualization

    Looker Studio Pro provides robust tools for exploring data and answering business questions. Users can build visualizations to represent data insights effectively.

    Enterprise Capabilities

    With its enterprise capabilities, Looker Studio Pro is well-suited for medium to large-scale environments, offering advanced features for comprehensive data management.

    Collaboration and Dashboard Sharing

    Looker Studio Pro enhances team collaboration through content management features and dashboard sharing options, facilitating informed decision-making.

    Support and Environment Management

    Users benefit from access to enterprise support and the ability to manage team content, ensuring a controlled and collaborative workspace.

    Google Looker

    Disadvantages of Google Looker for Business Intelligence

    Integration and Connectivity

    Lacks connectivity connection, which can be a significant hurdle for businesses relying on seamless data integration. Migrating data from AWS to big query is described as a painful process, possibly affecting time-sensitive analytics.

    User Experience

  • The sharing mechanism is complicated, impacting collaborative efforts.
  • Users find Looker not very intuitive and experience lag, which can hinder efficient data analysis.
  • Performance issues are noted, especially slow when handling many graphs on a single page.
  • Learning and Usability

    Looker has a steep learning curve, making it challenging for new users to adapt. This complexity necessitates extensive training, which is hampered by the lack of readily available training materials and documentation.

    Cost and Resource Allocation

    Onboarding is expensive, potentially affecting the return on investment for companies looking to adopt Looker for their reporting and analytics needs.

    Security and Accessibility

    Access to Looker is often heavily restricted by security teams, which can limit user accessibility and flexibility in data handling.

    Google Looker

    Frequently Asked Questions About Google Looker

    What are the hours of availability for Looker Support in Japanese?

    Support in Japanese is available from 9:00 AM JST to 5:00 PM JST, Monday through Friday, and from 5:00 PM JST to 9:00 AM JST, Monday through Saturday, including weekends and holidays.

    How do I ensure my Looker instance is eligible for support?

    Your Looker instance must be running an officially supported version. Instances hosted by Looker automatically update, while customer-hosted instances must manually update to a supported version. Additionally, for Looker (original) instances, the Google Cloud Project number must be filled in on the Admin General Settings page.

    Who is eligible to receive Looker Support?

    Looker Support is available to users with the Tech Support Editor IAM role and to administrators and developers on instances using Legacy Support.

    Is Looker Support available 24/7?

    Yes, Looker Support is available 24/7 in English.

    What might I be asked to do when submitting a Looker support request?

    You may be prompted to choose from a product area when submitting a support request.

    Use Cases for Google Looker

    • Google Looker

      Reducing client report time for marketing agencies like Wpromote

    • Google Looker

      Modernizing business intelligence for organizations such as MLB

    • Google Looker

      Embedding analytics into quote-to-revenue platforms for companies like Subskribe


    Why Sourcetable is a Superior Alternative for Business Intelligence

    • Simplified Reporting and Data Analytics

      Sourcetable offers a unified platform that streamlines the process of reporting and data analysis. Unlike Google Data Studio and Looker, which require navigating through various connectors and interfaces, Sourcetable centralizes data into an intuitive spreadsheet-like environment, making it more accessible for users to manage and analyze their data.

    • Enhanced Data Syncing Across Services

      With Sourcetable, businesses can effortlessly sync data across all their services. This capability surpasses the data integration features of Google Data Studio and Looker by offering a more straightforward approach to consolidate data, thereby reducing the complexity and time spent on data management.

    • User-Friendly Interface

      The spreadsheet-like interface of Sourcetable is designed for ease of use, catering to users who prefer the familiarity and simplicity of spreadsheets for data handling. This contrasts with the more specialized reporting tools of Google Data Studio and Looker, which may present a steeper learning curve for some users.

    Google Data Studio
    Google Looker

    Comparison Between Google Data Studio and Google Looker

    Web-Based Reporting Tools

    Both Google Data Studio and Google Looker are web-based reporting tools, allowing users to work with data in a cloud environment.

    Interactive Reports and Dashboards

    Users can create interactive reports and dashboards with both platforms, facilitating dynamic data analysis and visualization.

    Data Connectivity

    Google Data Studio and Google Looker offer built-in and partner connectors to access a wide variety of data sources.

    Sharing and Collaboration

    Both tools allow for the sharing of reports and dashboards with individuals, teams, or the world and support real-time collaboration.

    Embedding and Integration

    Reports from both Google Data Studio and Google Looker can be embedded on any web page. They integrate with other platforms, enhancing their extensibility.

    Developer Platforms

    Google Data Studio and Google Looker can be extended through developer platforms, such as the Looker Studio developer platform.

    Google Data Studio
    Google Looker

    Differences between Google Data Studio and Google Looker

    Google Data Studio and Google Looker are distinct tools catering to different aspects of data handling and visualization. While both are part of the broader suite of tools offered by Google, they serve unique functions for users and developers.


  • Google Data Studio is primarily a reporting tool designed for creating interactive reports and dashboards.
  • Google Looker, on the other hand, is a business intelligence platform offering more advanced data exploration capabilities.
  • Integration

  • Google Data Studio can be integrated with Looker Studio through the Looker Studio developer platform.
  • Looker offers a more comprehensive set of features for data management, including LookML for data modeling.
  • User Collaboration and Sharing

  • Both tools allow for collaboration and sharing of reports and dashboards with teams or publicly.
  • However, Google Data Studio places more emphasis on real-time collaboration within its interface.
  • Data Connectivity

  • Google Data Studio provides built-in and partner connectors, allowing users to connect to a wide variety of data sources.
  • Looker offers robust data management and can also connect to various data sources, but with a focus on database connections and LookML models.
  • Cost

  • Google Data Studio is a free web-based tool, making it easily accessible to a broad audience.
  • Google Looker is a premium business intelligence tool, typically requiring a subscription.
  • Developer Platform

  • Google Data Studio can be extended through the Looker Studio developer platform for additional functionality.
  • Looker provides a more extensive set of developer tools for customization and integration into enterprise systems.
  • sourcetable

    Comparison of Google Data Studio, Google Looker, and Sourcetable

    Google Data Studio

    Google Data Studio is a web-based reporting tool designed for creating interactive reports and dashboards. It offers connectivity through built-in and partner connectors, enabling access to a diverse array of data sources. Data Studio's sharing capabilities allow for distribution among individuals, teams, or public audiences, and it supports embedding within web pages.

    Google Looker

    Looker serves as a business intelligence platform offering both self-service and governed BI. It enables the creation of data-powered applications and embedded analytics, with features for data modeling and chatting with business data. Looker's generative AI and trusted data experiences support organizational and self-service BI, as well as the development of workflows and applications.


    Sourcetable is a spreadsheet interface that integrates with various data sources for analytics and reporting. It provides a familiar and intuitive environment for data manipulation and visualization. Unlike Google Data Studio and Looker, Sourcetable leverages spreadsheet functionalities, making it accessible for users with varying technical skills.


  • Data Studio focuses on reporting and dashboards, while Looker offers extensive BI capabilities, including application development and AI features.
  • Looker provides a more comprehensive suite for data management and advanced analytics compared to Data Studio's more straightforward reporting tools.
  • Sourcetable's spreadsheet-based model differs from Data Studio's web-based interface and Looker's BI platform, catering to users seeking spreadsheet familiarity.
  • Commonalities

  • All three tools support data integration from multiple sources and enable sharing and collaboration on data insights.
  • Google Data Studio and Looker, being part of the Google ecosystem, may offer deeper integration with other Google services compared to Sourcetable.
  • sourcetable

    Frequently Asked Questions About Sourcetable

    What is Sourcetable and who typically uses it?

    Sourcetable is a spreadsheet application that replaces workflows typically done in Excel, Google Sheets, and Business Intelligence tools. It is commonly used by growth teams and business operations teams.

    How does Sourcetable handle data integration and updates?

    Sourcetable syncs data from over 100 applications and most databases. Data integrations update every 15 minutes on the regular plan and every 5 minutes on the pro plan. Models in Sourcetable update automatically as data updates.

    Do I need to know how to code to use Sourcetable?

    No, Sourcetable does not require any coding to use. Users can query data, build live models, and start creating reports within minutes.

    How much does Sourcetable cost and what does it include?

    Sourcetable costs $50 per month on the starter plan and $250 per month on the pro plan. All plans have a 14-day free trial. The starter plan includes the first 5 users, and each additional seat costs $20 per month.

    Who should use Sourcetable?

    Sourcetable is great for anyone who needs to centralize, analyze, and model data that updates over time, especially growth teams and business operations folks.

    Google Data Studio

    Looker Studio Cost Overview

    • Looker Studio's Free Access

      Looker Studio, formerly Google Data Studio, offers a no-cost version. As of 2024, users can access Looker Studio's basic features without a subscription fee.

    • Limitations of the Free Version

      The free version of Looker Studio includes usage limitations. Users may encounter restrictions on certain advanced functionalities.

    • Unclear Pricing for Looker Studio Pro

      The cost for the upgraded version, Looker Studio Pro, has not been disclosed publicly.

    • Additional Costs from Third Parties

      Utilizing Looker Studio may incur third-party costs. These expenses relate to services or data sources integrated with Looker Studio.

    Google Looker

    Google Looker Pricing Structure

    • Platform Pricing

      Platform pricing is the foundational cost for running a Looker instance. It encompasses expenses for platform administration, integrations, and semantic modeling features.

    • User Pricing

      User pricing denotes the licensing fees for individual users to access the Looker platform. These costs are influenced by the user's role and permissions.

    • Billing and Accounts

      Each Looker instance is linked to a billing account responsible for all charges, which arise from new instances and additional named users.

    • Platform Editions and Subscription Terms

      Looker offers three platform editions: Standard, Enterprise, and Embed. The costs for these editions are determined by user roles and permissions. Subscriptions can be purchased for one, two, or three-year periods.

    • User License Types

    • Developer User
    • Standard User
    • Viewer User
    Google Data Studio

    User Reviews of Google Data Studio

    Google Data Studio is recognized as a powerful Business Intelligence (BI) tool. As a free platform, it offers significant value, particularly in its ability to integrate with over 300 partner connectors, as well as permitting users to upload CSV files. However, it's noted that while Data Studio does not store data from Google Sheets and Google Analytics, it does allow for data storage through the Extract Data connector with a limitation of up to 100MB per data source.

    • Data Blending and Calculations

      Users acknowledge Data Studio's data blending feature, but report limitations, such as the restriction to LEFT OUTER JOIN and the inability to perform calculations across blended data sources. Despite this, the platform is appreciated for its capacity to create calculated fields using SQL-like syntax, and users find crafting simple formulas straightforward.

    • Visualization and Interface

      The platform provides a variety of visualisations—33 variations on 13 types—including common ones like tables and scorecards, as well as the option for community visualisations from third parties. The interface is described as simple and intuitive, aiding users in quickly building visualisations. Data Studio also includes a data explorer tool, which aids in data discovery.

    • Sharing and Collaboration

      Users value Data Studio’s emphasis on connecting data and constructing reports. The reports are shareable through email or link, and can also be embedded in webpages, facilitating collaboration and distribution of insights.

      Note: This section does not cite specific sources for reviews and ratings, as the user did not provide that information.

    Google Looker

    User Reviews of Google Looker

    • General Sentiment

      User reviews indicate that Google Looker, a business intelligence (BI) and analytics platform, has been met with criticism by some users. It has been labeled as the worst reporting tool on the market by these individuals.

    • Common Complaints

    • Performance issues: Users have reported that Looker is slow in performance.
    • Usability concerns: The platform has been described as unintuitive, suggesting a steep learning curve or difficulty in use.
    • Technical glitches: There are complaints about Looker being buggy, which may affect user experience and reliability.
    • Comparative Views

      According to user reviews, other BI tools, both free like Data Studio and paid options such as Tableau, are considered to be superior to Looker. These alternatives are often recommended over Looker for analytics and reporting purposes.


    In summary, Google Data Studio and Google Looker both serve as business intelligence tools, offering varying degrees of complexity and functionality. Data Studio provides a user-friendly interface and basic data visualization capabilities, while Looker offers advanced data exploration and is suited for in-depth analytics.

    For those seeking a more streamlined and intuitive solution, Sourcetable offers the advantage of real-time data syncing across various services within a familiar spreadsheet environment. This simplifies business intelligence processes without the need for complex software training.

    Simplify Your BI Tooling

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