simplo - 6:42 am on Sep 22, 2013 (gmt 0)
I've seen the circles on and off for a while. They have been permanent since the 18th, when it appears the change took place. All the font/text business is controllable and you can re-optimize it, we have absolutely no control over the arrow, so it's a bigger concern for me. My text ads don't look that much different and I've viewed them on 3 platforms with 3 browsers.
I can't recollect exactly when I first saw them but I first noticed them on a competitors site about a month ago and I thought to myself "I hope that doesn't stick around" because I think they look too integrated, too dismissive and don't look appealing enough to click. The arrow with the round background looks more like a logo than anything actionable to click on. The old arrow had a rectangular background which symbolized a button, something people are used to clicking and feel safe about. It appears as if adsense just wants to get rid of the "button" and create something suspicious only adventurous users want to click. There's nothing about a color matching circle with a contrasting right chevron that says click me, at all.
I think Google dropped the ball on this one. (with pun)