James Courtney founded LUX Rewards whilst completing his Business Management degree at the University of Bath. Using his experience as a management consultant for IBM and PwC, he spotted a gap in the restaurant promotion market for a premium alternative to discounting. He led the business through multiple equity funding rounds, totalling half a million pounds and including investment from JUST EAT Plc.

James chatted to Niamh Butler-Walton about his professional history and the trends he is noticing within the industry…

What’s your role and what does it consist of?

I’m the Founder and CEO of LUX rewards. I love getting strategic, testing out new propositions, managing the development of new technology, hiring talented people to join our mission and building a team culture of positivity and proactivity! There’s also some legal, accounting and compliance work (which I don’t love quite as much) but hopefully not for much longer as we grow the team. 

What do you enjoy most about the performance marketing industry?

Whilst an overused phrase, creating “win-wins” is the best feeling for me. The performance marketing industry is not about defeating others, but creating meaningful partnerships that drive real value for all stakeholders involved. When done properly, customers should feel rewarded, brands should gain good repeatable revenues and publishers should receive a fair cut for connecting the dots and introducing new technologies. 

Who is your performance marketing hero and why?

My father is my inspiration. I grew up discussing his business ventures with him around the dinner table. He introduced “pay per results” to the SEO and performance marketing sector at the break of the millenium. This pricing strategy alone enabled him to differentiate from the fixed-fee competitors and he was able to charge a higher price by guaranteeing results. As a teenager, I saw for myself the long queues he was generating at business expos and events.

Who in your team deserves more recognition that they get? (The unsung hero)

Tom Munday is a beacon of bright light at the heart of the team. You can’t knock him down! If you’ve ever had the pleasure of emailing Tom, you might have been lucky enough to receive one of his legendary video replies. (PS. email tom.munday@luxrewards.co.uk if you want to see for yourself what it’s all about). 

What trends are you seeing working with advertisers?

I’ve seen a demand for more local content and more segmented (and closed) audiences. Most programmes have a handful of mass-market brands, but local restaurants and retailers seem to be a hot topic. I’ve also seen brands be more selective about the programmes they apply to, due to the brand associations but also the relevancy to customers. Finally, card-linking is a game-changer, especially for instore purchases. We use this at LUX and it provides a super smooth customer experience, whilst helping brands to reward transactions across the online and physical worlds. 

How has the role of affiliate networks changed over the last 12 months?

Technology is increasing in speed every year. Affiliate networks have adapted well by putting data at the heart of their platforms and presenting that data in a way that can drive additional insights. They also have a responsibility to champion new technologies like card-linking to the brands they work with. 

What one thing would you change about the industry?

I’d like to see more value passed down to publishers and programmes that give value back to customers (cashback/rewards) than those that simply push internet traffic through to links. Recognition that rewarding customers can drive additional loyalty, repeat custom, referrals and higher basket value. 

What’s your top tip for advertisers?

Challenger banks have started engaging in rewards (we’re already working with some). There has been a lot of speculation about how they’re going to monetise their large user bases (most are making large losses) and now is a great time to partner with them. They will drive technology change at a much faster pace than the industry is moving at the moment, so best to have your finger on the pulse. 

What other areas of the industry can you see yourself working in in the future, perhaps?

I’m an entrepreneur at heart. No industry is safe!

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