I also found the ads quite disconcerting. The main thing that bothers me about them is the way they look like a posting in the forum thread.
It would not be so bad if they were clearly differentiated from the forum content (as on the main page, where ads are occasionally inserted, but since they are graphic rectangles they can fairly easily be distinguished from the news items, which are text.)
But these adds appear very similar to forum postings (it would be easy for users to start posting advertisements in the fora, and it would be hard for readers to tell which were "official" ads and which were not.) Nice way to cover a phishing scam, or just promote ones own site/products.
(I wonder if the user name "Related Products" is still available
Also, for the ads to say "Related Products" is quite strange. How is a Zalman CPU cooler related to the Eee PC? (must be more room than I thought in those ultra-portables
A reasonable start would be to change "Related Products" to "Advertisement" (like they do in magazines that run ads that look like articles). Not ideal, but it would be a start.
Instead of trying to disguise ads as content, it would be nicer if the ads were clearly differentiated, but made more interesting by giving useful information about actually relevant items. I used to read the ads in Byte magazine because many of them gave useful information about interesting products. Now sites like PC Magazines web site waste most of each page with ads, which I have learned to ignore because there is just so much chaff there.
At least some tweaking of the ad code to downplay them, and more clearly differentiate them from the forum content would be helpful.