Approximately 50 people watched MOJO Ad, MU’s student-run advertising agency, present its semester-long research project, the 2020 State of the YAYA, on Tuesday in Fred Smith Forum in the MU School of Journalism.

MOJO Ad is made up of 33 strategic communication students who specialize in the “youth and young adult” market, or YAYA’s, people ages 18 to 24. MOJO Ad began in 2005 to help bridge the gap between America’s youth and advertisers. Team members conduct research on all aspects of young adult behavior, including political beliefs, preferred news consumption and mental health, and then deliver the information to the advertising market.

“We’re the specialists in all things young,” Aaron Carter, an account executive of MOJO Ad, said. “We believe we really understand the demographic well.”

The students were split into three groups of 11 members to look into certain categories of young adult behavior. In September, the teams distributed a national survey that contained questions about beliefs and behavior and received 733 responses. The answers young adults gave provided the main source of data for the 2020 State of the YAYA report.

The demographics of those who filled out the survey reflected nationwide demographics provided by the U.S. Census Bureau, Maya Patel, a researcher with MOJO Ad, said.

The report, titled “Under No Illusion,” detailed what the survey data and other research revealed about young adult behavior.

College students have little trust in the news and are overwhelmed by constant information, according to Tuesday’s presentation. All news is fake news, according to 35% of young adults surveyed.

Young adults are also worried about issues like climate change, mass shootings and discrimination. Over 70% of those surveyed said they were worried about social justice issues. Members of MOJO Ad said that trend shows that young adults feel as individuals they need to step up and help create a better world.

MOJO Ad’s research revealed young adults like to make connections in both the real and digital world and crave secondhand experiences like watching people on YouTube.

Over 80% of those surveyed said they gained confidence after watching someone online do something before they did it themselves, while 59% said they enjoyed watching someone else stream video games just as much as they enjoyed playing themselves.

Many young adults crave connection, so MOJO Ad suggested employers and agencies create new ways for individuals to do things with other people, such as Netflix’s recent marketing strategy that encourages couples to only watch shows together.

When it comes to relationships and social norms, 90% of young adults said they wanted to focus on bettering themselves instead of being in a committed relationship. Though that data may make it seem as if young adults do not want romance, 64% said they still wanted to be married within the next five years.

“Romance isn’t dead, it’s just different,” Mackenzie Elliott, an account planner, said.

When asked about mental health, the survey showed young adults are more susceptible to burnout in the workplace, but are also more resilient.

That’s why many make taking care of themselves a priority. Over 80% believe seeing a therapist should be seen the same as seeing a doctor for a check-up, and 91% believe mental health days should be allowed in the workplace.

Other topics such as privacy concerns, “cancel and ghosting” culture and more were discussed during the presentation, and detailed in the full report. Supervising editor is Kaleigh Feldkamp.

  • Community Reporter Fall 2019 Design & Infographics Fall 2020 Studying design Reach me at, or in the newsroom at 882-5700

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