Adobe Analytics | How to Use Adobe Report Builder and Why It's Still Valuable

Adobe Analytics | How to Use Adobe Report Builder and Why It's Still Valuable

When Adobe Analytics used to be called Omniture, Report Builder was my lifesaver in all things reporting. It was the go-to tool to pull large amounts of data at once. Because before, Omniture's UI had slow load times and it proved to be incredibly difficult when I had to pull 20 reports for a simple analysis.

Now that Adobe's amped up their UI game with Analysis Workspace, Report Builder's been put in the back burner for many analysts. Not me. So I'll show you how you can still get value out of this outdated, yet amazing tool today.

What is Report Builder?

Report Builder is an Excel add-on that allows you to export Adobe Analytics data in just a few clicks. Turn it on for your Excel spreadsheets and you're ready to collect data in just a few minutes. Yes, I have to admit - it does look old school. But because it's so outdated, it's actually very easy to use. Simply fill out a single popup to select the dimensions and metrics you want to see and even apply multiple segments at once.

I have to warn you though... the data export isn't as pretty as the UI. But you can definitely pick how you want the data to be formatted for easy grooming afterwards.

How do we use Report Builder?

Step 1

This is the first prompt in the Report Builder popup where you'll select your target Report Suite, Segment(s), Dimensions / Metrics, and the Date. Let's go over these steps in depth below.

1. Choose your Report Suite

Report Suite is the property where all your targeted data lives. Businesses normally separate Report Suites by the type of data ie app vs website, and different web domains. If you're an analyst, however, you'll have access to many report suites, so just make sure you are on the right one. I don't know how many times I've forgotten to select the right one and I had to go back and change it. So learn from my mistakes!

2. Choose one dimension

Again, double check here as well. Cross-reference with the Adobe Analytics UI to make sure you're selecting the right dimension - especially for the Custom Conversion or Traffic dropdowns. You'll want to make sure the right metrics will appear in the next step, so it's good to quickly glance at the UI first.

3. Select dates from rolling, preset, or fixed cells.

Here rolling is the popular option for automatic scheduling. But I prefer setting dates in fixed cells that change according to my formula. This way, I don't need to keep going back into Report Builder setup to change the date criteria. Otherwise if you're just doing an ad-hoc request, do whatever tickles your fancy.

4. Choose your segments.

You can stack your segments here, meaning they will all work together to filter your data set. If you're pulling a large data set, quickly double check a sample in the UI to see if it shows results you're expecting. I'm saying this because the report processing usually takes much longer. It's all about due diligence!

5. Specify time granularity

So this is where you choose the cadence of your data. This is why Report Builder is so helpful. It will automatically trend data based on the monthly, weekly, hourly level with just an extra click.

Step 2

Now on to Step 2 of Report Builder! This prompt is shown in a Pivot Layout where you can simply drag and drop whatever you need, wherever. Doesn't this remind you of the Pivot Tables in Excel?

1. Drag and drop variables into the Metrics section.

So remember, the metrics that appear here depends on the dimensions you selected in Step 1. Drop your favorite metrics into the Metrics section. You'll also have the option to with different calculated formulas, so take your pick! I usually just leave it as the default.

2. Drag and drop more dimensions (other than what you selected in Step 1) to the row labels.

Based on your main dimension, feel free to drag additional dimensions to your data table. Then, click on the green hyperlinks to select which format you'd like the values to appear. You have the option to either customize dimensions by processing the entire list or create filters for a more focused data set.

On the right side of each variable bar, you'll notice a little white box image with a green header. A visible image indicates that you want to show the values in the data table. If you clear it out, the data will still act in the background, but will not be shown in the results.

3. Click Finish.
4. If you haven't already selected where to place the data, there will be a pop-up to select one.
5. Done!

Once you've set up a Report Builder query, you can always go back to "Manage" all of the reports you set up previously and edit whenever. Or if you have queries set to rolling dates or automated fixed cells, just click "Refresh" when you're ready for updated data.

Why do we use Report Builder?

Pivot Table Functionality

As shown in the steps of how to use Report Builder above, you can tell it's quite easy to use in Excel. The Report Builder popup is mainly built like the Pivot Table you normally use in Excel, but actually connects Adobe Analytics data to your favorite program. Simply drag and drop whatever you need, and the data is all yours.

If you look back at the steps, there were literally 5 mini-steps on each page to get you the exact data set you need. Those steps were small, but Report Builder brings in the core Adobe Analytics features to Excel, so you can pull the data at your convenience.

Automated, Scheduled Updates

Again, back to the steps above. Remember when you can set the date frame to rolling or fixed? This setting is valuable, especially for automating and scheduling reports. The data will update itself and will be sent to whoever you'd like on a set schedule.

Flexible Excel Customization

Now to the grand finale as to why Report Builder is so amazing.

For us analysts, we depend on Excel to do all our heavy-lifting, right? The problem is that we just need to get the data there.

So Report Builder is our tunnel into Adobe Analytics right where we do your best work, in Excel. Report Builder will export data in a table format and give us the foundational pieces we need to do our magic. A beautiful UI, on the other hand, can be limited to its design, so you can only do so much data manipulation in an analytics software. So better to start from scratch then have something halfway there, but can't get all the way there - if you know what I mean.


Hope that was a great introduction to Report Builder for you. Let me know about your experience with Report Builder and what challenges you've been facing. Don't be shy to contact us to help walk you through Report Builder.

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