Generic Short URLs vs Branded Links: Which Has Better CTR?

Branded links receive up to 39% more click-throughs when compared to generic short URLs. This figure was determined by carrying out two experiments, which you'll find detailed below.



Generic Short URLs: A link that has been shortened and now contains a domain that is not your own For example,,,, etc.

Branded Links: A link that has been shortened and includes your own custom domain rather than the domain of the tool you're using. For example, '' becomes ''

CTR: This stands for Click-Through Rate and its the number of times a link was clicked divided by the number of times the link was seen. This is expressed as a percentage.


Experiment 1

The method:

  • We examined over 1 billion clicks from over 2 million links in our database.
  • Any links with no clicks or any with an unusually high number of clicks were removed from the test to avoid skewing the data.
  • We then calculated the average number of clicks on branded links and the average number of clicks on generic short URLs using the domain.

The results:

  • We found that the links which were branded with a custom domain performed significantly better than the links using our default domain.
  • Results varied across the board, but the branded links received up to 39% more clicks than those using a generic short link. 


Experiment 2

The method:

In order to look deeper into these findings, we ran a second experiment across our own social media channels to determine if a social media post using a branded link, which was identical to another social media post using a generic short URL would perform better.

We ran two identical advertisements on social media, both with the same image, text, audience, timeframe and spend.

Choosing The Channel

In order to test if branded links would increase the click-through rate, we wanted to test if the same advertisement would get more link clicks when using a branded link rather than a generic short link. But first, we needed to decide which platforms we would run our test on. After researching Facebook paid ads, Linkedin paid ads and Twitter paid ads, we decided that we would run our experiment on Twitter paid ads alone. Twitter gives a very clear view of the click-through rate of a link, so we felt that Twitter ads would give us the most accurate data and clear results about the effect of branding on the CTR of a link.

The Process

At the time of our test, Rebrandly had just launched its Teams feature, which allows teams to create and share branded links using the same custom domain. We advertised two identical posts on Twitter promoting this feature.

The Posts

Twitter campaigns allow you to select the objective of your campaign. For both ads, we chose the objective ‘Website clicks of conversions’. Each post used the same target audience, timeframe, spend, copy and images. Both posts linked to our sign-up page. The target audience we selected were people in the United States, both male and female, who had an interest in marketing. The only difference between the posts was that one post contained a branded link and the other contained a generic short URL.


The results:

Twitter's paid ads make it easy to track the CTR of each post. We found that the post with the branded link obtained a higher click-through rate than it's counterpart containing a generic short URL.

Based on these two experiments, we found that branded links will outperform generic short URLs and can increase click-through rates by up to 39%.


This Article is About:

  • Branded link click-through rate
  • Branded link CTR
  • Branded links
  • Vanity URLs
  • Custom short URLs
  • 39% click-through rate with branded links
  • How to increase CTR

Further Reading:

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  • 1
    Ezra Anderson

    "Twitter's paid ads make it easy to track the CTR of each post. We found that the post with the branded link obtained a higher click-through rate than it's counterpart containing a generic short URL."

    Can we know how much higher? :-)

  • 1

    Hi Ezra, Thanks for your question. 
    Unfortunately, there is not a precise number/answer. The % of improvement depends on many factors such as the credibility of the brand contained in the link, the relevance of the keyword in the branded link and the relevance of the adds. The most credible/trusted is the brand that is advertised the most is (generally) the increase of the ClickThrough Rate when you use a branded links instead of a generic short URL. Think at a link (Call to Action) like shor.tly/2DGSEW or some as which one would you click? 

  • 0
    Ezra Anderson

    Great, that is what I was wondering. Thank you! 

  • 0

    If I remember it correctly, in the second experiment, the Twitter one, we received a CTR improvement around 37% 

    Edited by David
  • 0
    Ezra Anderson

    Yes, I know many factors are involved. I was just wondering for this particular experiment on Twitter what the results were. 

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