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@Home to test flashy ads

The cable Net access provider is teaming up with several high-profile firms to test the effectiveness of media-rich ads on the high-speed platform.

Cable Net access provider @Home is teaming up with a number of high-profile companies to test the effectiveness of media-rich advertisements on the high-speed platform.

The trials, which @Home will conduct using methodology from market research firm IPSOS-ASI and sponsorship by semiconductor giant Intel, will measure how well advertisements can translate to viewers when beefed up with interactive and media-rich features.

Along with Intel, the trials will test advertisements from seven major companies including Bank of America, Johnson & Johnson, Levi Strauss, AT&T, First USA, and Toys R Us. These companies are looking to find out whether consumers are wowed by flashier commercials.

For example, users can test a video game in the Toys R Us ad, apply for a credit card on one for First USA, or view product shots from Levi's.

Analysts have said that cable access providers will be in a prime position to attract users hungry for media-rich, high-speed Internet access, should the convergence of PCs and television become a reality. Earlier this week, market research firm Forrester Research concluded in a study that 16 million U.S. households will use high-speed Internet access by 2002, with access via cable capturing 80 percent of the market.

The advertising trials follow the recent release of an FCC paper examining whether cable access providers should be classified as cable companies or Internet access firms.

If companies such as @Home and Road Runner are classified as "cable operators," they would not be required to share their high-speed infrastructure with third-party Internet access providers.

Intel is an investor in CNET: The Computer Network, publisher of