What Are Google Analytics Custom Reports?

December 19, 2018

Google Analytics offers a variety of pre-built standard reports, but what if you aren’t able to find a report that suits your needs? You can also create your own custom reports! Custom reports offer the ability to select dimensions and metrics that you want in a report and in the format that you prefer. These reports are great if you need to be able to quickly access a report that shows the metrics that you want to see without having to sift through other data that may not be useful to you. If you already know about custom reports and want to know how to build your own, check out my other blog post on how to create custom reports.

There are three custom report types including Explorer, Flat table, and Map overlay. You can include different report types on separate tabs in your custom report to take advantage of what each type has to offer for your data.

I. Explorer Report Type

The explorer report type is the standard Google Analytics report that displays your data in a table and a line graph. With this report type you can add additional secondary dimensions into the report data which will enable you to drill down into data according to the dimensions you’ve chosen.

Explorer reports are the default report type in Google Analytics and are great for comparing data over time in a line graph. For example, if you wanted to see a graph visualization of clicks over a two-week period, the explorer report will populate this data in a chart along with a line graph. You will be able to change the metrics that are presented in the line graph to other metrics you’ve set up to include in the report, such as impressions, cost and conversions.

Though the data graph is a very useful feature of the explorer report, these reports lay out data via one dimension at a time – to see further dimensions in the populated report you must add a secondary dimension to the report, and can only see two dimensions in the populated report at a time.

Below is an example of the explorer report type setup:

Explorer report type

Below is an example of the generated explorer report:

Explorer report

To drill down into dimensions you will need to select the secondary dimension drop down menu to add a secondary dimension into the report. Note that custom reports can only contain one secondary dimension at a time, though you can use the advanced filters option to drill further into the data:

Explorer report type 3

II. Flat Table Report Type

The flat table report type lays your data out into a table with columns and rows that you can readily sort. Unlike the explorer type, the flat table report organizes your data, including your secondary dimension data, into a flat table for you to read and export in the format of your choosing.

Flat table reports are great for comparing various dimensions and metrics in one data table at a time. For example, if you wanted to populate data and see multiple dimensions in one populated report such as source, medium, default channel grouping and campaign along with metrics such as clicks, cost and transactions, the flat table report will present this data in one report. Unlike the explorer report, the flat table report does not include a line graph to visualize your data.

Here’s what the Flat Table builder looks like:

Flat Table report type

Below is an example of a flat table report after completion:

Flat Table Report Example

III. Map Overlay Report Type

The map overlay report features geographic layout of your data into regions, countries and continents. The geographic regions are color-sorted by traffic and engagement volume or any other metric you choose to add. Regions with heavier traffic and engagement are displayed in darker colors. These reports are great for visualizing the geolocations your traffic is coming from, which regions drive the most transactions and which regions drive the most revenue.

You can customize the map overlay to the metric that you want to see, including sessions, impressions, clicks, cost, transactions and more:

Map Overlay Report type

Below is an example of a map overlay report visualization:

Map Overlay Report type preview

If you think you are ready to create your own custom reports in Google Analytics, check out this handy guide.