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OK, but what I'm wondering now is where these special, encrypted-keyword queries are coming from. Every AOL query uses a parameter called invocationType, and these encrypted-keyword queries all have invocationType=keyword_rollover.
I've searched high and low on AOL, but I haven't found any mention of any kind of keyword rollover ad they offer. I've seen 'em plenty of times on other sites, so I'm familiar with it, but I just can't see how AOL's getting into that technique. Do anyone know anything about it?
I don't have any examples to show, but what I suspect is going on is that AOL has bought some keyword rollover ads, a/k/a in-text ads, that produce search forms when the user rolls over the ad's keyword, and it's these ads' referrer strings which are encrypting the keywords.
I recently stumbled across such an ad that produced a Live.com text box, so I have to assume that somewhere out there AOL's made a similar ad buy.
If you've never seen this type of advertising (which Jakob Nielsen rightfully derided back in 2004, as such ads "not only damage the user experience on the host site, they poison the well for all websites [useit.com]")... Well, count yourself lucky.