Back in December Google Adwords announced they would be evaluating your landing pages with a quality score. Today on the Adwords blog they announced are turning the dial up a notch and some publishers may see a price increase:
As you may recall, we began incorporating advertiser landing page quality into the Quality Score back in December 2005. Following that change, advertisers who are not providing useful landing pages to our users will have lower Quality Scores that in turn result in higher minimum bid requirements for their keywords. We realize that some minimum bids may be too high to be cost-effective -- indeed, these high minimum bids are our way of motivating advertisers to either improve their landing pages or to simply stop using AdWords for those pages, while still giving some control over which keywords to advertise on. Although it is counter-intuitive to some who hear it, we'd rather show one less ad than to show an ad which leads to a poor user experience -- since long-term user trust in AdWords is of overarching importance.
From time-to-time, we improve our algorithms for evaluating landing page quality (often based on feedback from our end-users), and next week we're launching another such improvement. Thus, over the coming days a small number of advertisers who are providing a low quality user experience on their landing pages will see increases in their minimum bids. It is important to note, however, that the vast majority of advertisers will not be affected at all by this change, as they link to quality landing pages.
IMHO this is a step aimed at squeezing the profits out of the arbitrage model. However I've also seen it come into play and make it impossible to break into new keyword areas due to ridiculous pricing. The problem of course is in the definition of the Quality Score
This is the basis for measuring the quality of your keyword and determining your minimum bid. Quality Score is determined by your keyword's clickthrough rate (CTR) on Google, relevance of your ad text, historical keyword performance on Google, the quality of your ad's landing page, and other relevancy factors.
Since Web 2.0 is all about clarity I'll spell it out for you. Hey Adwords how about quantifying what you actually mean by "quality of your ad's landing page, and other relevancy factors". What are you using to determine this quality? Are you looking for specific text, are you looking for a 'buy button', are you looking for affiliate ads? I mean really it's so much easier if you say we are looking for X, Y, and Z instead of me hoping the magic 8 ball comes up with "outlook good" instead of "Don't count on it".
You've got people looking at the ads anyway so rather than jack the price up how about disapproving the ones that that actual humans think look bad. Since you're spidering the pages already, anytime you detect a significant change flag the ad for a quality re-review. That would ensure the quality of the system. That is of course unless someone wants to argue that letting me pay $10 a click to reenable my previously "low quality ad" is suddenly good for the users now that I'm paying more ...