Fortune has a good article on Google's strategic shift.
One of the most debated aspects of Google strategy in recent months has been its seemingly virulent opposition to any forms of branded advertising. Post-Internet bubble, this seemed to make sense because it meant that Google was opposed to banner ads. As recently as six months ago, it was common to hear executives forcefully declare that traditional branded advertising—the kinds of ads we see every day on television, online, in print and on billboards—were flat-out stupid. Never mind that companies like Yahoo were seeing double-digit growth in their branded online advertising business. In Google's opinion, what people really wanted was targeted advertising—that is, advertising not tailored to a broad swath of the population, like a feel-good ad for Ford trucks—but advertising targeted to people looking to buy a Ford truck right then and there. Google never thought traditional branded advertising would go away, but executives made it clear that Google would likely have no part in it. "Why would we be good at it?" one of them asked.
Will they be good at it? I'd like to know what changed. Do they perceive themselves differently now, or are they looking for ways to add revenue now that they are a public company?