Top 5 Most Useful Calculated Fields and Functions in Google Data Studio

functions and calculated fields

Calculated fields and functions are at the core of Google Data Studio! In this post, I want to share with you a few practical use-cases that I find quite helpful and time-saving. As you probably already know, the Data Studio functions are always evolving, so I will try to keep this post up-to-date, if any changes occur in the future.

1. CASE Function

In a previous post, I wrote an introductory article with a lot of examples on how to use CASE statements in Google Data Studio, so if you are starting out, I would recommend you to look at that first. For this scenario, I want to focus on a more complex use of the CASE function.

Scenario 1: How do I re-create my Google Analytics “Custom Channel Groupings” in Google Data Studio?

In Google Analytics, users have the capability to create “Custom Channel Groupings” that allow them to sort how users have arrived at their website (eg. direct, organic search and etc). However, the Google Analytics native connector for Data Studio does not offer those groupings. Therefore, you have to create them yourself with a CASE, which is actually a positive, because Data Studio gives you much more flexibility with functions when compared to the “Custom Channel Groupings” in Google Analytics.

google analytics custom channel groupings

As usual, you would have to create a new calculated field at the data source-level. Since the “Custom Channel Groupings” are going to include an extensive list of “Source/Medium” attributes, your CASE might get a bit crowded. Nothing to worry about, I have already pre-written the code for you, but here are a few callouts:

  • All CASE statements follow a sequential order when executing. For example, if your rule for “Paid Search” is generic, that might pick up the “Organic Search” data before the specific rule for “Organic Search” has had the chance to run.
  • You can use OR and AND combinations within your CASE to make things more digestible. I highly recommend that.
  • Always have a back-up rule! For example, you might have “Social Source Referral=Yes”, but if Google Analytics misclassifies your social channel – “l.facebook”- as “Referral”, you need to have that addressed with a regular expression.
CASE 
WHEN (Source="(direct)" AND Medium="(none)") OR (Source="(direct)" AND Medium="(not set)") THEN "Direct"
WHEN (Source="google" AND Medium="cpc") OR REGEXP_MATCH(Medium,"(cpc|ppc)") THEN "Paid Search" 
WHEN Medium="organic" OR REGEXP_MATCH(Source, ".*(^google|baidu|bing).*|.*(search).*") THEN "Organic Search" 
WHEN Social Source Referral="Yes" OR REGEXP_MATCH(Source,".*(social|fb|facebook|twitter|linkedin|pinterest).*") THEN "Social" 
WHEN REGEXP_MATCH(Source, ".*(mail|outlook).*") THEN "E-mail" 
WHEN REGEXP_MATCH(Source, ".*(youtube).*") THEN "Video YouTube"
WHEN Medium="affiliate" THEN "Affiliates" 
WHEN (Source="dfa" AND Medium="cpm") OR REGEXP_MATCH(Source,"(display|banner|native|.*(doubleclick).*)") THEN "Display (Campaign Manager)"
WHEN Medium="referral" THEN "Referral" 
ELSE "(Other)" 
END

2. REGEXP_EXTRACT and REGEXP_REPLACE Functions in Data Studio

Scenario 1: How to extract a UTM parameter into a separate dimension with REGEXP_EXTRACT?

If you have multiple campaigns and want to see how each one is contributing to your business, the REGEXP_EXTRACT function can be a real time-saver. Here is an example, the URL below includes a campaign name that we want to extract, as that part of the UTM is valuable to us.

https://datastudio.ca/?utm_source=dfa&utm_medium=cpm&utm_campaign=summer_sale

In this case, you would have to write the formula below. Firstly, selecting the dimensions that you want to extract from – “URL (with utm)”. After that, the regular expression simply says “starting from campaign= match everything until you reach another &.

data studio functions regexp_extract syntax

Once you apply the function, the result is pretty cool. We have extracted the campaign name in a separate and much cleaner dimension.

REGEXP_EXTRACT column with campaigns
Scenario 2: How to remove parameters from URLs with REGEXP_REPLACE?

Building upon the previous function, let’s assume that you want to remove all parameters to get the original URL. This is often used when you want to only see the traffic to a landing page and ignore all parameters. In our case, you can write the formula below. Once again, the regular expression says “look for anything after ?. Then, the third argument specifies what we want our replacement to be. We simply leave that blank.

data studio functions regexp_replace formula syntax

The final table would look something like this and our URL is now much more visible.

REGEXP_REPLACE column with url

3. CONCAT and IMAGE Functions in Data Studio

Scenario 1: How do I use CONCAT to combine dimensions?

This is a function that could prove to be extremely useful, especially if you are working with Campaign Manager (CM) or Google Ads. For many organizations, “naming conventions” are important, as they allow for easy data parsing. Well, with the CONCAT function, you can combine a few pre-existing fields into a single and more powerful dimension. Here is how it works:

Luckily, the function has a simple syntax. You type your first dimension, in this case, “Campaign Name” and then a delimiter. The delimiter specifies how dimensions will be separated from each other. A few common delimiters are “|”(pipe) and “,”(comma).

data studio functions concat syntax

The result is a compact and more informative dimension that combines all of the three fields. Remember, you can add as many dimensions as you want, as long as the final field is useful to you.

concat function result highlighted in red
Scenario 2: How do I use CONCAT with IMAGE to display images in a table?

A more advanced and exciting use of the CONCAT function is nesting it inside an IMAGE function. For this scenario, I have used the product data from the Google Analytics Demo Account. All we are doing here is, using “Product SKU” as a dynamic dimension since the product code is used in the URL. You can apply this same methodology with your eCommerece data set, as long as you have a dynamic element in the URL.

IMAGE data studio functions syntax with CONCAT inside

Once you have created the IMAGE calculated field, you can add it to a table. You will see the images showing-up immediately. A little caveat, the IMAGE dimension is only supported in tables, not other chart types.

table with images column

4. DATE_DIFF Function

Scenario 1: How do I calculate the difference between two dates using DATE_DIFF?

This is a familiar one for those of you who use SQL on a regular basis. The function returns the difference between two date/time values in a numeric format. An interesting scenario where I found this function useful is paid media for eCommerce. We often look at the time a user was exposed to an ad and the time he/she actually made a purchase. This gives us a sense of what we would call “time-lag”, which indicates that the user needs some time to think before committing to a purchase. This is exactly where DATE_DIFF kicks-in.

table with the DATE_DIFF function and date columns

The formula is straight-forward, you just have to include the two date fields that need to be subtracted.

data studio functions date_diff syntax

5. LOWER/UPPER Function

Scenario 1: How to use LOWER and UPPER functions to standardize text strings?

Last but not least, this function allows you to standardize your text dimensions. For example, imagine you have an online form on your website with a free-form input field that asks “How did you hear about us?” and the input field is free-form. The user might input any type of capitalization, so to clean up the mess, we can use LOWER.

table with answers column and LOWER function

You can also use the UPPER function in a similar fashion, converting all provinces to the standard uppercase abbreviations.

table with provinces column and UPPER function

I hope this was helpful and you can now use all of these Data Studio functions in your own projects! If you have any questions, feel free to DM me on LinkedIn 🙂


If you want to learn how to build powerful data visualizations and unlock insights that can help you drive business results for your clients or employers, take a look at my full course on Udemy.

dynamic dashboards and data analysis with google data studio
4 comments
  1. This was incredibly helpful and easy to follow. I was struggling to strip some unwanted URL parameters from my data, and your REGEX_REPLACE function did the trick. Thank you!

  2. I’m trying to get the UTM tags to see different campaign values and the URL with utm is a custom dimension? cause I don’t have it in my data studio

    1. Hey Mia, thanks for sharing this scenario. From what I can understand, the URL with the UTM is stored in a Google Analytics custom dimension. Let me know if that is correct. If that is the case, then you should be able to find that custom dimension in Google Data Studio; the custom dimension might show with an exact, as opposed being called “CustomDimension1”, which can be confusing. From there, you can create a REGEXP that parses the data in the custom dimension 🙂

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