Markets Via the Mousepad

Taking advantage of what it considers the only “dead” space left in, on or around the computer, will launch its Smart Pad system Sept. 1.

This mousepad plugs into the back of the computer, instantly allowing the consumer one-click, speed-dial access to Web sites, their e-mail and special offers through 20 customizable and preprogrammed buttons.

Marketers will be able to purchase buttons on special, seasonal templates that are mailed out to registered users, who must register when they first install the pad. These removable inserts slide in and out of the pad. When a template is slid in, the buttons are reprogrammed according to advertisers that purchased the buttons. A company can also pay to place their logo on the template. When a consumer removes the insert, the buttons return to the consumer's regular programming.

The mousepad is “dead or underutilized desk space,” said Jim DeRose, CEO of, Century City, CA. “We offer an on-desk branded impression that gets reach and frequency any time someone walks into a room and sits down at the desk.”

The initial pads that will be sold in CompUSA's 225 stores nationwide for $19.95 will not bear any advertising. “People don't want to be constantly bombarded with ads,” said DeRose.

Instead, “a few weeks before Valentine's Day, consumers will receive a letter and template that carries a Valentine's Day theme,” said DeRose. “It will be populated with buttons that lead them to Victoria's Secret, and other appropriate destinations. If they don't want the templates, they can just throw them in the trash.”

For consumers who use the template, “I can make a guarantee that no one else can make,” said DeRose. “Banner ads go by your eyes a mile a minute. I can guarantee that if you're on our pad that a consumer will go to your site at least once. We've done market research with consumers. They've said they'll click a button at least once out of curiosity.”

To beta test the product, MySmart partnered with Yahoo to give away the first 100,000 pads for $5.95, the cost of shipping and handling. Gap Inc., Toys 'R' Us, Barnes & Noble, eBay and E*Trade were all onboard for the test run. It began in June and concluded earlier this month.

MySmart would not share any data from the test other than to claim “the adoption rate has been outstanding,” according to DeRose.

A unique feature of the pad is its MySmart Key Card. This involves a smart card that stores information and can be used for unlocking, accessing and making changes to pad settings. It can also store information such as a credit card number and other information fields necessary to make a purchase. Using the card, the consumer need not fill in any of the fields necessary to make a purchase online, as the card automatically flows in the data.

Just like an ATM card, consumers choose a password. They can insert the card into any MySmart pad, enter their password and instantly access their information and settings.

Comparisons can be drawn to Rocketboard, a keyboard that launched earlier this year that features 18 keys linking to more than 300 Web merchants. DeRose said while they are both pieces of hardware, “we're not asking you to eliminate your [standard] keyboard. We're using the underutilized space on the desktop.”

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