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It took Marco Polo four years to reach the heart of the Orient. It's taking Madison Avenue considerably longer to find a path to the Asian-American marketplace.

The lure is a group with an average household income of $41,583, 18% higher than the U.S. national average.

According to the 1990 U.S. Census, the Asian-American population was 7.3 million, or about 3% of the U.S. total. By 2000, the group will account for about 5% of the total population, growing to 10% by 2050.

Given that, the amount of advertising directed at and placed in Asian-American media is disproportionately low, said Jennie Tong, CEO of Lee Liu & Tong, a New York-based agency specializing in the Asian market.

Ms. Tong estimated national U.S. advertisers only spend about $50 million annually on ads targeted specifically at Asian-Americans. The agency believes one reason is the difficulty in planning buys in Asian-American media. So Lee has published the Asian Media Planning Source, a 154-page directory that includes more than 340 publications nationwide that reach the Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, Indian and Filipino communities.

"Normally, when companies talk of reaching Asians, they think of the East Asians, like Koreans, or Japanese, or Chinese and other people like Indians and Pakistanis don't exist," said Gopal Raju, editor and publisher of India Abroad, the only Audit Bureau of Circulations-audited publication of the 340 publications in the directory.

Others in the directory include World Journal, Korea Times, Sing Tao Daily News, Filipino News and The Yomiuri America.

A detailed profile on each publication is provided, including open ad rates, closing dates and frequency. In December, the agency plans to release a volume on electronic media.

Lee's clients include MCI Communications Corp., Federal National Mortgage Association, and New York Life Insurance Co.

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