July 2016

Guidelines and Best Practices for Beacons installation


Knowing the technology behind proximity marketing might help building better campaigns and improving an app user experience.

Beacons are devices capable of broadcasting a Bluetooth signal that smartphones can listen to. Many manufacturers make beacons and they mostly differ in hardware. Some of them are powered by batteries, some through an USB connector or power adaptor and they come in all shapes and forms. The software for those devices lets you configure them according to a well established standard.

The two most important settings are Advertising interval and Broadcasting power. Having a short interval will make for a fast reacting user experience. Beacons will be picked up sooner and any procedure using a distance estimation will be more accurate. The downside of a short interval is battery consumption: shorter intervals use more battery power.

The beacon broadcasting power affects the overall space covered by the Bluetooth signal, where an user device will be aware of its presence. The power level is usually measured by the signal attenuation in dB and, just like the advertising interval, has a direct effect on battery life. The higher the broadcasting power, the heavier the battery usage. An additional effect of having an high broadcasting power is signal bleed, the irregular leakage of signal that might extend the area covered by a beacon over to other areas.

One way to maximize beacon effectiveness is proper installation: beacons should be mounted in such a way to create a clear line of sight with user devices. Hanging beacons on the ceiling is one of the best practises in installation. When this is not feasible, a proper wall-mounting still might give good coverage. Pay attention to the materials of the beacon surroundings, since they can tamper with the signal. Wood and glass pose no threat, but be wary of concrete, metal and water!

It’s always encouraged to test the environment and find out the best spots for installing beacons.

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