How to Use Your Google Beacon


Who doesn’t love free stuff, right? But if the free stuff is a mysterious package from Google that shows up unrequested, it feels a little weird. Here’s the scoop: Google is expanding its Beacon Project and has been sending out boxes containing tiny white devices and vague instructions to all kinds of businesses.

Slightly creepy, yes, but we’ve put together this guide to help you learn about the Beacon Project and how to leverage it to grow your business.

What is Beacon?

The Beacon Project is an initiative from Google that aims to increase location accuracy for mobile users. Google can already use your location to figure out where you are within 11 feet , but they want to improve this and provide pinpoint accuracy to mobile users while also providing new proximity-based features for businesses like yours. Thus your mystery box. You’ll find a small, cylinder-shaped device they want you to put in your business’s physical location.

Most mobile phones always have their location services on, and Beacon hopes to use this to improve geofencing technology.

So if you set it up, your beacon will be able to tell when a customer enters your business, how long they stay, and when they leave. The beacon emits a one-way signal that is picked up by mobile phones, but it doesn’t collect any information on the user.

So what’s in it for my business?

Once your beacon has this user information, it can provide features like Popular Times, which will show customers how busy your location is on average on any given day. It can also be used to tell which reviews and photos are from customers who have actually visited your location, and your beacon will be able to send out information about your business in real time to mobile users nearby.

Should you be on the lookout for a beacon if you haven’t received one yet? Right now it depends on the size of your business and how much foot-traffic it gets. Google’s website says, “The features available to your business depend on the number of users that visit your venue, visit durations, size of venue, and other factors.”

There aren’t any published specifications about exactly how large your business needs to be or how many customers will unlock these features.

How do I use it?

Your beacon is easy to set up. You basically take it out of the box and place it in an unobtrusive place in your business. Your beacon will turn on automatically. Once your beacon is placed, go to this website and enter the activation code printed on the address label of your beacon box.

Here are some tips for placing your beacon:

  • Try not to place your beacon on anything metal
  • The beacon works better when it’s placed up high, like on top of a bookshelf.
  • You can use the adhesive strip on the back of your beacon to stick it on something, just try not to move it around much once you stick it.
  • The middle of your business is the best place to put your beacon, so try to keep it away from walls.

If you have any trouble with the setup of your beacon, you can email Google support at to help you out.

If you don’t have a beacon yet and want to give it a shot, you can request a free beacon straight from Google. It probably goes without saying, but I’ll say it: beacons only work with businesses that have a physical location.

Should I use it?

At first glance, the Beacon Project seems like the perfect way for businesses to improve their location-based marketing, but there is a catch. Google is the only one who can control the beacon, and all the data that it collects is owned by them as well. So, all of the features mentioned above can only be activated by Google.

There are other beacons on the market that allow you to control their functions and receive all the data collected, but this isn’t one of them.

At the end of the day, Google Beacon is an easy and free way to possibly attract more customers to your business, so give it a shot if it shows up on your doorstep. But if you’re looking for a marketing tool that you can control or you’re super suspicious of “Big Data” (think Person of Interest), you should probably keep looking.

Do more with 8 Signal

Want to learn more about geofencing and targeting ads to the people most likely to visit your business? At 8 Signal, our goal is to help you shine, and we’d love to help you outsmart, rather than outspend, the competition.

Contact us today to see that we can do for your business.