A survey commissioned by Variety magazine found the five most influential figures among Americans ages 13-18 are YouTube stars, eclipsing mainstream celebrities such as Jennifer Lawrence and Seth Rogen. The highest-ranking were Smosh, the online comedy team of Ian Andrew Hecox and Anthony Padilla, both 26. The top five—and six of the top ten—were YouTube stars.
The survey asked 1,500 respondents how twenty well-known personalities stacked up in terms of approachability, authenticity and other criteria considered aspects of their overall influence. Half the twenty were drawn from the English-language personalities with the most subscribers and video views on YouTube; the other half were represented by the celebrities with the highest “Q scores” among U.S. teens aged thirteen to seventeen.
YouTube stars scored significantly higher than traditional celebrities across a range of characteristics thought to be correlated to purchase intent. YouTubers were judged more engaging, extraordinary and relatable than traditional celebrities, who were rated as being smarter and more reliable. In terms of sex appeal, the two types of celebs finished just about even.