tedster - 4:26 pm on Apr 16, 2013 (gmt 0)
This thread contains a lot of thoughtful observation. I think it's important for us to process the "biggest picture presented by Google Search as a whole - including organic results, the SERP layout, and their Adwords business -- and start by accepting the [oints made above by TOI - that they are each the province of separate teams. When Matt Cutts and Amit Singhal speak, they are talking about the organic slice of the pie and not the overall constitution of the SERP.
Here's something I find interesting - the way that our individual focus often gives us a bias that masquerades as real analysis. For example, websites who are not competing in Adwords often say that big advertising dollars also buy you better treatment in the organic SERPs. However, I have also worked with companies that have very large advertising budgets with Google. And those companies often complain that with all the money they spend, Google should give them some special treatment in organic search too... but they don't.