John Battelle has been experimenting with Google AdWords (as a buyer, not a publisher), and was confused to find many of his keyword bids inactive. More puzzling was that on many of his bids, he was the only apparent bidder.
Somebody at Google was kind enough to point him to a post on another blog (apparently, an official AdWords blog) that explains how Google AdWords “work.” Basically, if you don’t write a quality ad, you must bid more to get your ad to appear.
It’s policies like this that make me think Google AdWords will never appeal to local, mom/pop shops. Your average small business owner is too busy to optimize ads, check bid rankings regularly, try to figure out the magic formula for the best ROI. They just want their advertising to work. No fuss. And they don’t want to think Google is just jacking them around to make more money (which is certainly a reasonable suspicion). Keep it simple. This could be a key competitive advantage for local news sites.