I have to admit that QS has been more of a main focus nowadays when managing campaigns. We manage multiple client campaigns and QS is extremely important in all of them - much more than it used to be.
I definitely agree with you guys who are saying that you can have an ad that's performing well ROI-wise but not so well CTR-wise and be penalized for this. I can understand Google's point of view in terms of wanting to improve quality but isn't a higher ROI also a sign of giving people what they want?
Sometimes your CTR will be lower simply because you've filtered out some traffic by displaying pricing in your ads so the "tire-kickers" most likely will not click resulting in a lower CTR, but a potentially higher conversion rate. How is this bad for quality and user experience?
I also agree that you can't automate the improvement of quality and while it might be the most cost effective way to do it, they will tend to frustrate both advertisers and users. Just think of search re-targeting where Google tries to automatically determine which ads to show based on a previous search query. Or how about expanded broad match - now how did that move ever increase quality?
I'm not about to become a Google-basher, on the contrary, but it would really be nice to see some more transparency on their part. Also collecting feedback from the search community before implementing radical changes and updates wouldn't hurt either.