One-on-One Q&A session on Beacons and GPS

We recently sat down with Jake Denny, our SVP of Brand Solutions, to discuss location based targeting (LBT), specifically Beacon and GPS technology on Mobile and answer some questions that have come our way from clients and partners alike.

How would you define location based targeting (LBT)?
It is a form of targeting that integrates mobile advertising with location based services, such as app SDK, physical or virtual beacons or GPS signals.

We constantly hear mention about precision and accuracy when talking about LBT but what is the actual difference?
Precision is a technical refinement in a measurement, calculation or specification, especially as represented by the number of digits given. Focusing too much on precision can mislead people into believing accuracy is greater than it really is, especially when you consider that precision is built into accuracy. Precision degradation occurs when you use fewer decimal places, and then you can start to lose some accuracy.

What is a beacon?
Beacon technology can be defined as a Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) Beacon. BLE Beacons can also be referred to as Bluetooth 4.0 and iBeacon since Apple owns the trademark on the technology.

How do beacons and mobile devices work together?
Consumers must opt-in to share their information in the permissions set by the App to use Bluetooth and location services as a safeguard. For the device to detect the BLE Beacons, the vendor (UUID), the region (major) and the content (the minor) of the beacon must be known and logged on the server side, to be able to collect the data from a mobile device.

What is the range of a beacon?
Beacons can be detected within a general range of approx. 70m/230ft. Uniquely, Bluetooth can validate the presence of the unique device, through the collection of deviceID and timestamp.

Everyone is talking about IoT- is this a beacon?
In some circles beacons are referred to as IoT, but generally IoT assumes the devices are smart and connected. Whereas on most occasions with BLE Beacons, the only smart device present is the mobile. A BLE Beacon transmits signals via Bluetooth solely on distance from device to beacon, it cannot transmit content or other data. A beacon is more a sensor than it is an IoT device.

Why is there still hesitation with the adoption of beacons?
Beyond the technology standard of BLE/ Beacons/ iBeacon/ Bluetooth 4.0, the industry lacks any form of standardization around distributed software to manage beacons through 3rd party Apps and networks. This is definitely one of the largest barriers to entry and is what inhibits the addressable scale in the market today.

Are virtual beacons the same thing as BLE Beacons?
A virtual beacon is a mini geo-fence. The radius is set to a much tighter area, typically around a true point of interest. The “Core Location” framework or “Location Manager” framework will “wake up” the App when the device comes within the mini geo-fence. Virtual beacons are entirely server side and do not have the physical presence validation by BLE Beacons. They also have the opportunity to scale faster than physical installations but have the same challenges in software distribution. It could be argued that the challenges here are greater, because clients committing to a physical beacon strategy are more likely to install the SDK in their App than companies that are simply selling their data.

What is GPS in regards to mobile targeting?
Modern smartphones leverage the Global Positioning System (GPS), which allows the GPS receiver to receive geolocation and time information where there is an unobstructed line of sight to four or more GPS satellites.

I hear people always talk about triangulation- what is this?
Since we are not always receiving a direct signal from a GPS satellite, telecommunication companies use a process called triangulation which determines the location of a device by measuring the distance between two or three different network towers. This is how they deliver coverage to connect calls, provide data services and surface location data.

Do Android and iOS support location services in the same way?
iOS provides access to location through their “Core Location” framework. Android provides access through their “Location Manager” framework.

How would you compare the accuracy between beacons, GPS and NFC?
Beacons offer marketers a combination of precision and accuracy and can “wake up” your Apps even when closed, to notify the server (connected to the SDK) of your detection and proximity. GPS does not offer a high degree of accuracy indoors, given its dependency on line of sight to satellite technology. Near Field Communications (NFC) can support the transmission of data and content, but requires a very tight range of approx. 10cm/4inches.

What industries would benefit the most from LBT?
QSR (quick service restaurants), Retail, Automotive, Travel and Tourism, B2B, Education, Fitness (gyms), Pets focused (vets, retail, parks), Sport, Telecommunications (retail).

Have more questions about beacons, GPS and/or location based targeting? Check out our Location Based Targeting blog or email us at