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Salesforce bolts on Google ad management utility

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Salesforce.com and Google have announced an online ads and CRM alliance that'll have some in Silicon Valley feeling deflated this morning.

The result of the tie-in is Salesforce Group Edition featuring Google AdWords. This will combine the creation and management of campaigns using Google AdWords with Salesforce.com's dashboard and customer relationship management (CRM) platform.

The companies have come in beneath expectations, two weeks after reports of a Microsoft-threatening tie-up. This was supposed to combine Google services such as email and Instant Messenger with Salesforce.com's customer relationship management - and surely this would have been logical early checkmate to Microsoft's fledgling Office Live and promised CRM Live.

Today's offering appears to extend the pre-existing Salesforce.com for Google AdWords - that was founded on software from Kieden, the much-admired former Salesforce.com partner, bought by Salesforce.com last August - in integration and pricing.

On integration, Salesforce Group Edition featuring Google AdWords facilitates lead capture by sucking potential customers' data into Salesforce.com from things such as forms on companies' websites. Lead information can then be shared with others inside the company. The companies hope to pull customers to sites by combining ads with search results.

Price appears to have been simplified compared to the previous Kieden offering: $1,200 per year with a 30-day introductory offer of $600 per year plus a $50 AdWord credit. That compares to a set of tiered charges based on monthly ad spend.

Salesforce.com's chief executive Marc Benioff is expected to put some color on the news later today at an event in San Francisco. He will likely pitch this as democratizing business software and advertising for millions of companies while talking tough on CRM encumbents like Microsoft.

But there is no doubt that this is not the deal pundits and optimists expected. And, while the news was anticlimactic, the hype certainly wasn't, with the companies remarking how both had "revolutionized how customers and businesses utilize the internet.”®

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