CentralDesktop.com asks "How Much Does Google Pay For It's Own AdWords?" It appears that CentralDesktop is a direct competitor to Google now and trying to obtain a top PPC advert is getting more difficult since you can't set your max bid to X and get the top spot.
On first thought, you might turn to traditional media like TV and say to yourself... Self? Yes? Would should NBC, ABC, etc. be forced to give their primet time ad space to any one who wants it? Mixed feelings on that. However, they don't tend to have an open bid process. They can charge what they want. I.E. Small business A decided to run an advert between 8:00-8:30 on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday with a local affiliate of XYZ TV company. Perhaps they pay $100,000 for that advert for the week. Big business B decides that they want to run an advert during the same time period but they'll cover several local and national affiliates of XYZ TV station. Because of this they only pay 20,000 for each affiliate. They get the same basic coverage as small business A but better pricing for the single affiliate that A was using. Perhaps XYZ gives B better pricing knowing that they can woo B into doing -alot- more advertising with them across their network, in more high priced spots like during the Superbowl, etc.
Ahhh... different treatment based on outside factors.
On second thought, when I read the newspaper's classifieds, when I see an advet for a job, these are much like PPC. In the rare cases where the newspaper alos advertises a job, they often have both a full page advert as well as the smaller, normal classified listings. The difference betwee them and Google? I know that the advert is from the newspaper very, very clearly. Although SEO Blackhat was bitching about this a bit, I think that this type of Google take over of the serps for their own products is better than just grabbing all of the top PPC spots: Google Properties to Appear #1 in all SERPs