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DIY AdWords; Hand-Holding Extra

Intuit is rolling out QuickBooks 2007 designed to automatically help small businesses deploy Google's ad and marketing programs, driven in part by research that said close to half of all small businesses don't have an online presence.

The software package, slated for release this fall, will list users' business on Google Maps and create and manage advertising campaigns with Google AdWords.

It will also upload the customer's inventory data to Google Base, a free product listing service best described as a mix of Craigslist and eBay.

It also will come with Google Desktop, the computer-searching feature, integrated with the software.

So, your business isn't online yet? No problem. Google said it would host your site and get you started with a basic Web page.

Not sure how AdWords works? The package offers Quickbooks 2007 customers a $50 AdWords credit and will help them walk through the keyword-driven advertising model that brings up Web search results relevant to the user, and explain how the keyword-bidding works.

It all but holds the customer's hand.

"This offering is just the beginning and we think there is a lot of opportunity to do even more," said Steve Bennett, CEO of Intuit, , during a conference call today.

The companies cited research by Access Markets International (AMI) Partners, a technology analyst firm, that said more than 50 percent of small businesses in the U.S. believe they can use the Internet for sales, marketing and customer support to help grow their business and strengthen customer relationships. In short, they want to be online but don't have a Web site set up or the resources available.

That's a problem, if the so-called "Long Tail" theory about the Web is going to pan out. It needs more "little guys" selling their wares online.

In short, the Long Tail theory holds that the growth of small niche businesses on the Internet will create their own markets with low distribution and storage costs that could challenge even the big players of e-commerce.

For the likes of Google, it translates to this: little buckets of revenue from small players that can add up to an ocean of money.

"We take this Long Tail business very seriously," added Google's CEO, Eric Schmidt, during the conference call. "Looking around, we saw a way to add a million or more ads already to this network," while helping more small businesses establish their presence online.

The AdWords help could eventually lead the small businesses to AdSense, Google's popular contextual advertising service, which drove the lion's share of Google's most recent quarterly profit of $721 million, more than double its year-before profit of $342.8 million.

The alliance is about helping Google expand its AdSense program, which is important for small marketers, Sapna Satagopan, JupiterKagan analyst who covers search and search engine marketing, told internetnews.com.

"Small marketers have been quick adopters of search marketing, given its low barrier to entry. But as budget-conscious marketers, there is an aspect of plateau-ing pretty quickly," she noted.

"Google has now developed a strong suite of products to cater to exactly this marketer, with local search, Google base and Adwords in Search. This is definitely a way to pitch to the budget-conscious marketer while providing a platform that enables easy adoption."

And don't forget the local search aspect, she added.

"Local search, so far, has been lacking in involving the local search marketer in an ROI benefit analysis mode, which is where this partnerships makes its mark. Our research shows that one-fifth of small marketers plan to increase their search spending by more than 25 percent in 2007, an opportunity that Google would want to access deeply and optimize fully."

Intuit said the Google marketing tools will be available with U.S. versions of QuickBooks 2007 products and services, including Simple Start, Pro, Premier, Enterprise Solutions, QuickBooks Point of Sale, Invoice Manager and Credit Card Processing Kit.

Google Desktop search functions will be available with U.S. versions of QuickBooks 2007 Simple Start, Pro, Premier, Invoice Manager and Credit Card Processing Kit.