How to compare data to the previous period on Looker Studio ?

How to compare data to the previous period on Looker Studio ?

Looker Studio is one of the best reporting tools. You can create multiple charts to analyze and dig into your data.

One of the great features is the ability to compare metrics to a previous period! You can display the variation or the absolute change for any given metric at any time (if the metrics are historicized).

It is one of the best features to know your progress and compare results from a previous week, month, or year.

How to choose your period?

The first thing to do is to choose the period for the elements of your report. Looker Studio has set up a unique selector just for the time frame.

From the top menu, click on : 

  • Add a Control, then Date Range Control.
  • Place the date range selector in the canvas.

Use date range selector in Looker Studio

With this selector, all the components set up to Auto Date Range will automatically take the date range selected.

You can check the configuration for a component in the configuration panel:

Default date range in Looker Studio

If auto is selected, the component depends on the date range selector.

If custom is selected, the component depends on the configuration below.

Show the comparison to the previous period:

Once you create the date range selector, you need to activate the comparison to previous period options.

Almost all charts can display the comparison to the previous period, but some cannot (pie charts, maps...), so if you can't find it, try to use another chart.

To activate it : 

  • Select a component.
  • Scroll down the configuration panel to the Default date range section.
  • In comparison date range, click on None
  • In the newly open calendar, click at the top right to select a custom period and select Previous period.
Compare metrics to previous period in Looker Studio

You have multiple options to choose the date range to compare : 

  • Fixed: You select the date range to compare with. It will always be the same even if you change the date range selector.
  • Previous period: Always compare to the last period. Looker Studio will correspond to the previous month if you choose This Month in the date range selector.
  • Previous year: Always compare with the year earlier. Looker Studio will always reach the date of the same period as last year.
  • None: Remove the period comparison.
  • Advanced: let you select a custom period depending on your needs.

The best way to know which date is compared with which is to create a Time Series chart. Looker Studio will visually tell you which date it is using.

Use a time series chart to identify which day is compared to which.

Bonus: Activate comparison for only the selected column in a table:

If you tried activating the comparison date range in a table, you noticed it is automatically active on every metrics column.

You can choose the column where to keep it by following this :

  • Go to the Style configuration for a table component.
  • Scroll down to the column configuration.
  • Uncheck Show compare for every column you don't want it to be.
Remove comparison for one column only - Looker Studio

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Looker Studio function : COUNT_DISTINCT