Redbox Case Study


Background: The small startup called DVDPlay produced the kiosk (SW, HW, platform, delivery network & advertising network) for Redbox a McDonal’s spin-off. The DVDPlay/Redbox machines were deployed in every McDonal’s restaurant in USA, as well as the majority of Safeway grocery chains. Subsequently DVDPlay was bought by NCR which competed directly against Redbox. In the process, the DVD Rental industry was radically transformed seeing the Blockbuster and mom ‘n pop rental stores disappearing almost overnight, coupled with growing pressure from online media streaming and Netflix. The DVDPlay/Redbox kiosk greatly increased traffic flow to participating locations boosting rental and store revenues and opening new “out of the home” advertising channels.


Mission: As the first UX designer at DVDPlay Steve was entrusted to deliver on the design of what became the #1 DVD/BlueRay Rental Kiosk in the world. Later Steve was also asked to be the Project Manager and Product Manager in charge of piecing together a brand new “out of home” advertising network that piggybacked onto the existing kiosk infrastructure. This advertising network became a precursor to NCR’s cashier register displays that are now common nationwide in USA and are becoming pervasive worldwide.

Approach: Steve introduced User Centered Design and Lean UX methodologies to speed up product development and performed as Product Owner to create an advertising network based on the kiosks. Among many other things Steve focused on:

  • Designed Kiosk and AdPlay™ user experience
  • Authored first AdPlay™ self promoting ad camping
  • Managed Kiosk hardware and software design
  • Negotiated and managed strategic partnerships
  • Performed usability, foot-traffic, end-user research and analysis

As this product and service was completely new to the marketplace, there were many lessons learned. UX is not just about the on-screen interface. Users are *anyone* who interacts with your company. They include the system admins who have to install your stuff and keep it up and running, the managers who have to make a purchasing decision about whose software to spend their hard-won budget on. User Experience is about looking at the whole experience the user has in interacting with your products and your company and making it as easy as possible for them, right from the way they hear about it, through purchasing and finding the information they need to make an informed decision, through installation, configuration, administration, ongoing support.

Results: The media rental industry, along with pressures from online streaming, was forever changed and a new, disruptive business model was introduced and has thrived. Also:

  • DVDPlay’s user interface and user interactions are the de-facto standard in the DVD kiosk industry due to its intuitiveness, human factors, and quick response
  • AdPlay™ was the first “out-of-home” advertising network in the kiosk industry
  • Kiosk have received prominent placing in high traffic areas of partner stores, hundred million impressions and users
  • Usability and design work on the back-end software allowing it to scale capability to remotely manage thousands of Kiosks

Systems Architecture
The AdPlay™ Advertising Network was built from the grounds up piecing together commercially available software and hardware components.




Market Research
The following is an abstract from the foot-traffic research performed at several Safeway grocery stores in the Bay Area. This analysis helped negotiate best store placement of Kiosks.



Interaction Design & Usability
A touch-screen Kiosk might seem common place today but it was not a few years ago. Steve designed user interfaces and performed vital streamlining and usability improvements incorporating research and observations from field tests he personally conducted. Below we see improvement to a keypad entry screen to capture emails and a alternative movie list.

dvdplay_keyboard     dvdplay_listui

AdPlay™ Marketing Campaign
Steve also crafted the very first marketing campaign, visual concepts, tag lines, and the production graphics, for self promoting the kiosks

dvdplay_xaliens1      dvdplay_robots2
dvdplay_robots1     dvdplay_monkeys3
dvdplay_monkeys1     dvdplay_astronauts1