With "Ads Choices", Google provides several tools for web users to opt out of interest and demographic advertising, view/add/remove the categories currently focused on them and even see details in the cookie used for tracking. On the other side of the coin, ad testing confirms mouseovers are being tested with ad units, but seem very limited. According to the official AdSense blog, the familiar "Ads by Google" will soon be replaced with a new "AdChoices" notice, label and icon which, when clicked, will take users to a page that explains the ads, online advertising and provides a link to the new options page.
The last several weeks have seen a swap from the word "sponsored" on results pages ads to the much more inconspicuous "Ad" or "Ads", but the behavior of textual ads is only slightly changed.
The change to the new icon and label will be in the next few weeks on most ad formats but you should be able to access Google Ad Preferences for yourself right now. The blog post also states that Google's "Self-Regulatory Program" intends to encompass advertisers in the "Display Network" and they encourage other advertising mediums to come to a similar, if not identical system also. In the next to last sentence, author Katrina Kurnit wrote that tests showed the new icon, label and notice should have no effect on ad performance.
What seemed like a style experiment with AdSense units has been seen with mouseover CSS highlighting effects, which have been intermittent but clearly draw attention to individual advertisers messages. The effect's colors are an indicator that it's not the website influencing the style, purple is Google's idea. How is the color decided then? You'll notice the link text is a different color but sue to the intermittent nature of the effect, attempts to change the link color aren't fast enough.
The 4-5 text link units still bear full size marks like the larger sizes, which is probably only going to change labels. One thing this may indicate is Google allowing more trust in displaying their customers products without marking them up or the opposite which would be trying to lay the burden of honesty solely in the hands of site operators and SEOs. High quality advertisements are full production numbers, right out of televisionland, and that obvious. From the users view, the commercials are becoming more obvious to consumers as small screens rather than blocks of trick imagery and with less labeling, site owners can fit those screens into designs and layouts in ways that entice click actions without seeming deceptive about it. Webmasters want tight layouts that blend together with all the other elements
Given the choice, can or will the browsing public at large target themselves properly? Drop the term "target", can users "interest" themselves properly?. A fortunate scenario that could happen for many site owners is displaying ads with higher click value than those that used to fit contextually; ads don't have to be relevant to the publisher's website if they're highly relevant to their visitor. Unlike similar interest based targeting, it could be considered one step ahead with the users participation while taking one step back is just a fall back on an already well proven advertising model if a user opts out.