“I have a beacon – can I turn it on and automatically send advertising to users passing by?”

::Roadrunner screeeeeeech::


These are the types of questions we sometimes get, and by no means do we shake our head at this. Beacons tend to be heavily misunderstood and are often thought to have capabilities that may not be ideal given the technology.

Let’s start simply by explaining what a beacon is…

A beacon is small Bluetooth radio transmitter that emits a signal that can be picked up by any nearby Bluetooth enabled mobile device. However, in order for this beacon to be of ideal use, it needs to be registered with an app that has the Gimbal SDK integrated.

While Gimbal beacons have traditionally been used to power micro-proximity data for incredible in-app consumer experiences, they also have favorable uses for media campaigns.

Beacons for Media

In the case of media campaigns, think about beacons like you think about “exact locations” in the media world.

One important thing to keep in mind with beacons: there needs to be scale – either in the number of beacons deployed (for audience creation) or the number of impressions being run (for attribution) – in order to reach large enough counts to be actionable.

For example:

  • A single beacon won’t be able to sight enough nearby devices to create an audience large enough to run an ad campaign against.
  • Similarly, a small media campaign won’t reach enough devices to generate visitation counts for micro-attribution.


 What are Gimbal beacons best used for?

  • At-scale ad campaign attribution for visitation measurement on a micro-level (i.e. if you want to understand where people spend most of their time within specific locations – shoe department, finance office, auto showroom – and how long they dwell).
  • Large-scale beacon deployments for segmentation and creation of audiences based on specific micro-location visitation behavior.
  • Ideal for both indoor and outdoor use cases as outlined above.

Can beacons enable more personalized advertising experiences?

  • If done at scale and enough device ID’s can be sighted nearby the beacon, you can segment that audience and retarget them with product offers related to the area where the beacon was placed (i.e. in-store standee or POP displays, shoe department, etc.), thus personalizing the ads based off a user’s specific location.  

What are Gimbal beacons not ideal for?

  • Low-scale use cases i.e. visitation to a laundromat or single locations with little foot traffic. 

Am I able to create a mobile ad campaign using a beacon and setup myself?

  • Beacons do not contain any sort of content and therefore don’t have the ability to create ads. Beacons can however be used to support your proximity marketing efforts (i.e. push notifications) if you already have an app with the Gimbal SDK installed.* 

I have several billboards throughout X city, can I put beacons on these and run an ad campaign?

  • While this is possible, beacon ad campaigns require scale for optimal performance. Although we can collect rich location data from our app panel who near the proximity of these locations, and set up a campaign using the advertising IDs associated with those users, the scale would be limited.

Do beacons collect and track people’s info?

  • Beacons simply broadcast a signal that can be picked up by a mobile app with the Gimbal SDK when a customer has Bluetooth turned on – they don’t store any information.

Can beacons send in-store offers based on a users location?

  • While this is possible via push notifications if you have an app with the Gimbal SDK, it is not possible to send beacon-based ads in real time.

*If you have an app and are interested in integrating the Gimbal SDK to power macro and micro location-based mobile experiences, visit our Getting Started page to learn more.