In an effort to expand on that a little, here is a copy of one of the approval emails for the new process, along with explanations of what occurs. In all honesty, if you don't take time to read these steps when they are sent to you, you will be creating a host of problems for yourself.
Welcome to AdSense!
You now have access to your new AdSense account and the AdSense code that you need to place ads on your site. To activate your account and get started with AdSense, follow the steps below. Or, for a detailed walkthrough of everything you need to know as a new AdSense publisher, visit Newbie Central: http://www.google.
I believe the paragraph above may be one of the things causing confusion. While it is important to read the "Newbie Central" section on Adsense, with this new approval process you cannot actually do everything they list in Newbie Central. You can get the code (as described below in this email), and place it on your website. That's about it though. While you can access and see other things in your account, you won't be showing impressions or earnings right away, until your account goes through the final steps of approval.
We have completed a partial review of your application, and you may begin placing AdSense code on your site. In order to help you begin using Google AdSense as fast as possible, we will conduct a further review after you’ve placed the AdSense code on your site. We will notify you of full approval or disapproval within four (4) business days.
This paragraph above is, I think, where people are beginning to get confused. While you do get to place ad code on your site, it isn't actually going to work until the final review is completed. That paragraph says "4 business days" but given the actual time this takes, I wouldn't count on that actually happening within four days all the time. It can take four days, or it might take a week or more, depending on just how many sites and applications they have to review. They'll be trying to get through them all in four days, but these people are (contrary to some opinions) just human and can only do so much in a day. They don't work 24-7.
Please note that initially, instead of live ads, you will see blank ads - the ad unit box will blend in with the background of your webpage. This occurs because your account is still under review. We cannot complete our review of your application until you have placed the AdSense code on your site and are sending us ad requests.
This is another paragraph in the new process that seems to be causing confusion - I'm not sure whether it's just because people aren't bothering to read it, or if it's because someone has past the "four days" noted in the above paragraph and they just expect the ads to work.
When you first place the ad code on your site, you may actually see live ads for a few minutes but you probably won't see them for very long. Once the crawler visits your site it's going to discover that your site isn't yet approved to display ads, and those ads will disappear, but the ad code will still be in your site, and that's the way it's supposed to be until you pass through the final stage of the review process.
Without having the ad code in your site, these folks won't know which sites to review, so the ad code has to be there, but the ad itself doesn't. That's because you aren't going to get paid for any ads until after the final review process, and Adsense has it set up so they can review the site with the code, but you aren't expected to display advertising you won't get paid for, so the ads aren't visible to anyone.
If you don't get the codes on your site, it won't go through the final review process, so getting the code in place is an important part of this new process, but don't expect the actual ads to display until you receive a notice saying you received approval.
Once you have been fully approved, we will notify you by email, and you will begin seeing live ads appear on your site. You will not need to take further action to start earning revenue.
If you placed two or three ad codes in your site during the initial stages of the approval process, and you make it through the final stages and are approved, then those ads will automatically begin displaying again. At that point, you will begin earning revenue. If you only placed one code and want more than one ad, go to your account and get started creating other ad units (there is a maximum of three ads allowed on any one page).
Once the approval is received you may want to check your site to ensure that you are happy with the ad placements and that they aren't in spots where they overlap your content, or where your content or menu overlaps or covers part of the ads.
From this final approval point onwards, you can make adjustments and fine tune the ad placements, create channels and track your stats in your adsense account. It is important to ensure you understand the rules and policies associated with being an Adsense Publisher, so make sure you follow the instructions in the balance of the email (see below) and read all information associated with Adsense in their help center.
And don't forget - NEVER click your own ads, and NEVER ask anyone to click them, and NEVER tell people to "visit your sponsors".
Good luck with your Adsense account...and happy blogging!
The balance of the email publishers will receive during the new approval process is noted below:
Even after approval, we continuously review all accounts for compliance with our policies. If any violations are detected, your account may be disapproved or ad serving to your pages may be stopped. If at any time you are not seeing ads appear, we recommend that you log into your AdSense account and examine any messages that may appear.
STEP 1: Access your account.
STEP 2: Create an AdSense ad unit.
Visit the "My Ads" tab, confirm the product selected is "Content" and click "New ad unit."
STEP 3: Display AdSense ads on your pages.
After you create your ad unit, we'll give you the ad code to paste into the HTML source of your website so that you can show ads (after approval). For help adding the code to your pages, visit our Code Implementation Guide at http://www.google.com/
* Once ads begin to appear, please don't click on your ads, even to test them -- doing so isn't permitted by the AdSense programme policies (https://www.google.com/
* You can add the AdSense code to a new page or site that complies with our programme policies at any time. There's no need to inform us or apply for a new account when you do - once you have been fully approved, you may place the code on as many pages that you own as you wish. Please make sure our crawler can access any webpage you place ad code on - see http://www.google.com/
Have more questions? You can find answers in our Help Centre at http://www.google.com/
The Google AdSense Team