The digital landscape is vast with touchpoints across the web. As such, data is often siloed within an app or tool, jumping you from one platform to the next trying to wrangle your analytics.
That’s one solution Google Data Studio seeks to provide, a single place to present all your digital data. Instead of going to Google Analytics for your web traffic, Hootsuite for social traffic, a third-party ad platform for programmatic and retargeting data, you could bring all those data points into Data Studio using a data connector. Once they’re in the platform, you can model your data, merging it, creating calculated fields, and adding parameters.
What is a data connector?
A data connector is the building block of Google Data Studio. It’s Google’s lingo for any link to a data source be it native Google data like those from Analytics, Sheets, or Ads, or connections from a third-party data source, like a social media or ad platform.
Data Connectors can be split into two main types:
1. Your free, Google created data connectors,
2. Your paid, third-party data connectors.
Google’s Free Data Connectors
Google’s free connectors are more than enough to get you started in Google Analytics, especially if you’re wanting to explore web data and Google Ads data. Google offers 18 connectors, including to Google Analytics, Sheets, YouTube, Ads, and Search Console. They’ve also built out connectors to SQL, MySQL, Extract Data, and a CSV upload.
Connect to 18 different Google Connectors for free to start presenting your data.
Of course, most of these connectors, especially those to the Google Suite, require you to have Google Accounts. The first time you connect data, you’ll be asked to login and authorize the connection. Once you’ve added a data connector, you can begin using charts to display your data.
Third-Party Data Connectors
Let’s go over a few key facts about third-party connectors, or what Google calls Partner Connectors.
- Most platforms haven’t created their own connector. For example, Facebook hasn’t made its own Facebook connector, nor has AdRoll made its own AdRoll connector. Instead, third-party companies like PowerMyAnalytics, Supermetrics, and tapClicks create the connectors (we’ll cover those third parties in a bit).
- Many, not all, of the third-party connectors are paid. Additionally, Google doesn’t handle the transaction. You have to pay on the third party’s website.
- Most connectors are sold in bundles not individually. If they are sold individually, they can be costly. If you plan to use multiple third-party connectors, it makes sense to go with one company and pay for multiple, or even unlimited connectors.
- If you’re looking for a specific connector that may be a little more niche, be sure to check out this page https://datastudio.google.com/data. Google lists all their partner connectors and has a search function you can use to track down the data you want to connect to.
Comparing Data Connector Platforms
There are many companies that create data connectors, but only a handful of players have multiple connectors and sell subscription access plans. We’re going to compare three – PowerMyAnalytics (PMA), Supermetrics, and tapClicks – and judge them with three criteria: Price, Breadth of Connectors, and Support. We’ve also included a little summary on what might make them unique.
Before diving into the differences between these three platforms, let’s look at their similarities. First, all three are easy to use. This may be a reflection of Google Data Studio more than the tools themselves. Each requires you to login to your accounts and give access to their platform.
Once access is granted, you can start pulling data into Data Studio just as you would one of Google’s free connectors. All three platforms come with access to dashboard templates that can help you create reports faster, especially if design isn’t your forte.
Finally, each platform has solid reviews! Your biggest differentiation is going to come in price, breadth of connectors, and support, which we review below.
Price: PMA sells access to individual connectors starting at a very competitive $9.95 per month. Once you start bundling the prices climb. $29.95/mo for three connectors and $79.95/mo for unlimited. Users can pay monthly or save 16% with an annual subscription.
Breadth of Connectors: PMA offers 32 connectors. They’re missing some popular connectors to SEO platforms like Ahrefs and Moz.
Support: Unless you’re on the enterprise plan, where you’re given a dedicated support member, support is limited to email and phone.
Summary: PMA’s only products are Data Connectors for Analytics and Data Studio. This means they’re only focused on one core offering. Small businesses or those new to the analytics world may find this a better option. One thing to note about PMA is they use a method of connecting called Data Warehousing. This means they don’t connect to data through a straight API, but instead bring the data into the cloud, then pass it onto your connectors. It doesn’t affect speed and can help you maintain data visibility during a platform outage or for stricter API’s like Instagram.
Price: Supermetrics is a more expensive option, and frankly, not the best for a single connector, which sits at $49.92/month. The first bundle comes in at $126.72 a month with 33 connectors. There are additional higher priced packages and a 22% discount for yearly subscriptions.
Breadth of Connectors: With 49 connectors, Supermetrics has a slew of critical connections. Supermetrics also has some connectors in beta, and users can trial early access to the connector.
Support: Like PMA, support at every tier besides enterprise is limited to email. Supermetrics does not have phone support but does offer a forum.
Summary: Supermetrics offers a complete package of connectors and is slightly more customizable in what you can choose. They’re definitely a leader in the space and offer analytic products and data connectors outside of just Data Studio. As a more popular company, they have more reviews online you can read to help inform your decision.
Price: tapClicks does not sell individual access to connectors. The first bundle is $101/mo for 30 connectors and grows from there. There is a 22% discount for annual pricing.
Breadth of Connectors: tapClicks has the most robust offering in terms of connectors, claiming 240+, though only a handful appear on Google’s list. They have what they call a Smart Connector, essentially pulling data manually into their system each night for any connection that doesn’t support a native API, though this can cost an extra $100 a month. One downside to tapClicks is their strict bundling. Users can’t choose which connectors they want out of the entire list. Instead, each higher package grants you access to additional connectors.
Support: Email support is the only option until the enterprise package where you’re given a dedicated customer success manager.
Summary: tapClicks is best if you have niche or custom data connectors you want to build. Their list of connectors is impressive, though chances are you would never need that many, nor is the price as friendly as PMA or even Supermetrics. Since you can’t buy just one connector, you may find it too much of an investment to jump right into their first plan.
Who is the winner?
Price: PMA wins this battle hands down, especially if you don’t need a lot of connectors.
Breadth of Connectors: By sheer numbers, it’s tapClicks, though with their strict bundles, you may be better off with Supermetrics.
Support: PMA has the upper hand here, but only slightly. All three have a similar support package, though PMA’s phone offering gives you another handy point of contact should you need help.
Whether or not you opt for a paid data connector or stick with Google’s free options, there’s no denying that data connectors are the building blocks of your reports. All three paid platform’s we’ve covered offer a free trial, so give them a try and start building!