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Gen Z & Millennials’ Top 19 Favorite Online Celebrities

We asked 13-34-year-olds to tell us their favorite blogger / vlogger, social media star on YouTube, Vine, Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, etc., and made a ranking of their top favorites…

Tomorrow, our newest Ypulse Quarterly report will include a full deep dive into The Influencer Effect. Influencer marketing is allowing the online-famous to make big bucks with brands clamoring to strike partnerships in an effort to reach the elusive ad-skipping generations. While brands race to understand the effectiveness of the now-popular tactic, we went straight to the source, and asked young consumers what they really think about influencers and influencer marketing. We uncovered that over three in ten Gen Z & Millennials consider online celebrities their friends, even more are more likely to consider purchasing a product their favorite online celebrity recommends, and so much more—including the top online influencers they’re watching now.

As part of this research and in each of our social media tracker surveys (conducted quarterly), we ask 1000 13-34-year-olds, “Who is your favorite online celebrity?”* We clarify that this could be a blogger / vlogger, social media star on YouTube, Vine, Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, etc. and let them tell us their top pick. Their responses are incredibly fragmented, showing the vast number of online stars that are available, as well as the fragmentation of audiences that occurs in new media. But we’ve combined the respondents’ answers from our last three surveys to create a ranking of the current top 19 favorite online celebrities among Gen Z and Millennials:

*This was an open-end response question to allow us to capture the full range of online celebrities that Millennials and Gen Z consider their favorites—without our preconceived ideas shaping their responses. As with any qualitative question, the responses include those that are top of mind and those that are most popular. The list is ordered according to number of responses received, and alphabetically when ties occurred.

Who Is Their Favorite Online Celebrity?


  1. Jenna Marbles
  2. Mark Fischbach / Markiplier
  3. Pewdiepie
  4. Philip Defranco / PhillyD
  5. Rhett & Link
  6. Chrissy Teigen
  7. Kim Kardashian
  8. John Green
  9. Casey Neistat
  10. Shane Dawson
  11. Ryan Higa / nigahiga
  12. Kylie Jenner
  13. Thomas Sanders
  14. Ellen DeGeneres
  15. Liza Koshy
  16. Bunny Meyer / Grav3Yardgirl
  17. Taylor Swift
  18. Hank Green
  19. Lilly Singh / Iisuperwomanii

Congratulations to Jenna Marbles! She’s at the top of our ranking of Gen Z and Millennials’ favorite online celebs. So, what makes Ms. Marbles, a.k.a. Jenna Mourey, a favorite influencer? We also asked respondents to tell us why they named their favorites, and saw some themes develop. Humor was of course the top reason that respondents who named Jenna Marbles gave, but relatability was also a common mention. A 21-year-old female told us, “She’s funny and down to earth, it makes her so relatable,” while a 24-year-old female said, “She’s very down to earth and doesn’t try to conform. She is very unique and relatable.” Being “down to earth,” “real,” and “personable” were refrains of the relatability theme. Several respondents also mentioned that they love Marbles because “she does what she wants.” An 18-year-old female explained, “She’s very unique and will occasionally post bizarre videos for the sole sake of making bizarre videos and having fun (rather than just making them for profit), which I admire her for.” A 16-year-old male told us more simply, she’s “very funny & does whatever she feels like.” The idea that an influencer is posting and performing because she wants to, and isn’t just motivated by profit is clearly appealing—and is a reasoning we saw behind other online celebs’ mentions as well. 

As is clear by the gender and ages of the majority of the quotes above, Jenna Marbles’ popularity is driven by females in their 20s and 30s—which becomes more obvious when we look at the top online celeb ranking for Gen Z versus Millennials:

Jenna Marbles still makes the top five ranking for Gen Z, but 13-17-year-olds were more likely to name the infamous Pewdiepie as their favorite. On both Gen Z’s and Millennials’ top ranking, we see a celebrity who didn’t have their origins in a YouTube channel or another social platform: Kim Kardashian for Gen Z, and Chrissy Teigen for Millennials. Their presence in the list indicates that the definition of fame continues to blur. Now, online celebrities can be considered big stars, but more traditional (TV, movie, model) celebrities can also turn into digital juggernauts. 

We have no doubt that this ranking will continue to shift as we track it. Fame is moving and changing quickly still, and new online stars are continuously building up their followings to compete with the current bigs. 

To download the PDF version of this insight article, click here.