If you find the ads that Google serves you just a tad too distracting, here's an easy way to lessen their impact.
Reader Edward wrote in with this suggestion:
Targeted adverts are very annoying and distracting. If you're sick of dating adverts just because you're in the age range, or strange dieting fads with gross pictures of food popping up, here's a great way of avoiding these. Google Ads allows you to select your demographic manually. So if you choose something out of your demographic (say 60-70 years old), you won't receive these ads. Of course, you'll receive strange ads that don't interest you - but that's exactly the kind of ad that least distracts you.
To actually make the changes that Edward's talking about, send your browser to http://www.google.com/ads/preferences. From there, you can change your age, languages, interests or opt out of Google's interest-based ads altogether. That gives you back some power over the types of ads Google serves you without removing the source of funding for many popular web sites, which is what essentially happens if you use ad blocking software to perform the same task. You're not eliminating ads, but you are choosing which ads you'd broadly like to see.
Like any choice, there are some downsides, because while you may get away from a car ad that's annoying you, explaining why your ad stream is full of, say, incontinence pads if Google suddenly thinks you're 90 could be socially awkward.