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Partner Spotlight: Reward

Acceleration Partners’ Partner Spotlight is an ongoing series where members of our Partner Development team shine a light on innovative partners from across the world.

This month, David Vince, EMEA Partner Development Manager at Acceleration Partners, interviews Stephen Gardner, Global Director of Retail Partnerships at Reward.


Hi Steve and welcome to our Partner Spotlight! Before we get into it, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Where do you start when talking about yourself – 40 something years old, born in Hong Kong, have lived in Mexico, Brazil and Switzerland and I speak three languages.

I live in Chertsey with my beautiful wife and two-year-old son. I’m terrible at golf but love playing whenever I can and should really invest more time in to getting better, but maybe that can be my 2021 resolution.


Firstly, I really love what you guys do at Reward and I’m excited to share this with our readers. Can you give us a brief description of Reward and what you do?

Reward runs personalized Card Linked Offer loyalty and engagement programs for banks, credit card companies and select non-financial institutes. By analyzing billions of transactions a year and having a deep understanding of millions of consumers’ spending behaviors, our predictive consumer behavior technology enables us to deliver hyper targeted, personalized offers to over 150 million consumers around the world. This is using a pay on performance model, meaning they only pay if the customer changes their shopping behavior.

Targeted campaigns can be as simple as acquiring new, never-shopped-before consumers to spend with a merchant. It can also include isolating consumers that live in a certain distance from a physical store, that have spent over £X with a competitor brand in the past three months.

Our current ‘flavor of the month’ campaign type getting prepped for 2021 is to target shoppers that have spent with a retailer in November and December (Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Christmas shoppers) but haven’t again in January or February. The benefits of being a highly targeted closed user group program is that we can run such a campaign in a controlled and secure manner.


Which sectors work particularly well for Reward and are there any that you would like to explore more?

We currently work across the grocery channel, coffee/food on the go, high street retail, online retail, hospitality and subscription services—from Amazon to Waitrose. Wherever there is a consumer paying with their debit or credit card, it’s safe to assume we can work with the merchant.

It’s really about knowing where we can add value to a merchant’s overall performance, and that can only come from forging a close partnership where we align on both strategic and tactical goals.


From what I understand, you can work through affiliate networks, but sales are paid out based on your data. Can you clarify how this works?

Certainly can. Everything in our world revolves around the actual payment mechanics—the exchange of money from our cardholders, to the merchants.

Every time we purchase a good or service in a shop or online, there is a verification between the merchant and the card issuer to make sure there are funds available to complete the transaction. This works based on the merchant’s unique merchant number (MID) and the consumer’s unique card number. It is a process that always happens, and this is the data point we use to ensure the right consumers receive the right incentive from their purchase.

The only way a conversion is validated is when the bank records the transaction and we share this reporting with the networks or merchants.


What are the main challenges you face when speaking with advertisers about a potential campaign?

Even though we have been running Personalized Card Linked Offer campaigns for many years, it is still a relatively new concept to many advertisers and as such, we don’t have a specific budget to which we can be assigned. It’s not a major problem in most cases as commercially, we are a performance driven partner with no set up or maintenance costs, no extras needed for tenancies or the like; you pay an override on the consumer’s reward. That is it.

So really the biggest challenge is timing—making sure we are talking to the retailers at the right time to become part of their plans.


Are there any campaigns that you have run which have surpassed your expectations?

There are many, but it all boils down to achieving a merchant’s/retailer’s goal. For some that is simply acquiring new never-before-shopped customers. For others it is getting improved lifetime value from their existing shoppers.

We are in a unique position where we know how our cardholders shop—who they are, where they shop, what they spend and can answer questions like ‘where else are they shopping,’ ‘how frequently,’ and ‘is that instore or online….’  All of which contributes to the overall success of campaigns we run.


Finally, if you could have one superpower, what would it be?

Saving the toughest question for last I see….my current thinking would be time travel. I could spring forward a little bit and see if my son does ever fall off the back of the sofa so I can stop constantly warning him it will hurt if he falls. Or I could jump back a few years and invest in a few companies, or get to a pro level at a sport or two. The options clearly being limitless.


To learn more about the many other affiliate partners we work with to add value to our clients’ programs, reach out to our global publisher development team.