I think it's a good idea by them. Personally I don't ever look at them because I'm in a niche where they're not allowed but usually I'm blind to them, but it definitely caught my eye a couple weeks ago.
This is the first I hear of this. I thought the ads were closer to the organics recently but thought it was just my imagination or some change in my browser. I too think it's a good move as it might increase click rates.
They started testing this August 5th on Firefox, but as of August 12th they rolled it out into production. Since then CTR is - as would be expected - up. Reprise Media puts the increase [searchviews.com] at 14.5% (meaning a CTR of 1% becomes 1.145%, for example).