Intuit, Google partner up

Intuit, Google partner up: (From the press release) “For the first time, small businesses can use QuickBooks to market themselves online by listing their businesses on Google Maps, creating and managing advertising campaigns with Google AdWords and posting their products for sale on Google through Google Base – a free product listing service.”

This is a fairly potent partnership if you ask me. Also, it is refreshing to see Google Base described in a way that makes sense to a small business owner — “a free product listing service.” Instead of calling it Google Base, someone had the wisdom to call the feature “QuickBooks Product Listing Service” and it will be included as a feature on the next version of QuickBooks. Quickbooks will also integrate a means to manage Adwords search advertising on Google as well. If the small business needs one, a website is also available from Google.

I assume the product listing feature on Quickbooks 2007 will offer an easier way for local merchants to do what CVS and Walgreens already do — so that when one uses Google Base to search for Tylenol by location, they get a results page like this. I say easier because any merchant can already do that through Google Base — without the Quickbooks feature — it just takes some effort and technical skills to figure out how.

One downside I fear may happen with this partnership — but hope these two technology companies will avoid: the temptation to silo the inventory data (the sku’s, prices, etc.) that will be uploaded by the small businesses. Merchants should be able to create the data in one format and if Intuit offers that, it’s a good thing. However, small businesses should be able to use the data in any way they want, not just on Google Base. For example if Yahoo! or eBay — or, who knows, SmallBusiness.com offer a similar product listing service it would be appropriate for small businesses who have the data on their computers in QuickBooks to be able to upload that data in the same format to other services — in much the same way all newsreaders understand RSS or OPML.

Update: (From Greg Sterling at SearchEngineWatch.com) To power the product listing service, Intuit has acquired an online search-engine marketing service called Step Up for $60 million. Also, Greg’s article clarifies the concern I raised in my original post:

“StepUp CEO Kendall Fargo told me in response to my question about whether the Intuit acquisition and Intuit-Google partnership would mean any changes in the company’s roadmap or objectives. Beyond the additional reach this gives them, he said “no” and also expressed a desire to work with other partners (e.g., MSN, Yahoo!, etc.)”

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