The guys over at Text Link Ads have made a video explaining the process of buying text links.
Patrick Gavin, the CEO, speaks on the text link buying panel at SES and having seen his presentation a couple of times - both with and without the new graphics - I can tell you these guys really do lead the industry in this area.
Obviously this is just another form of advertising and any organic benefit you may receive from purchased link advertising is just another pleasant surprise - right Google folk!
Have to know there are people reading my blog from Google.
Guys those cellphone boosters you handed out in San Jose were a nice touch - but I am having someone see if they contain a tracking chip...
I am starting to get Google paranoia!