Generic Short URLs Vs Branded Links, Which Has a Better CTR?

Branded links receive up to 39% more click-throughs on average than generic short URLs. This figure was determined by carrying out two experiments detailed in this article




Generic Short URLs:
A link which has been shortened and now contains a domain which is not your own. e.g,,, etc.

Branded Links: A link which has been shortened to include your own custom domain rather than the domain of the tool you're using. e.g '' becomes ''

CTR: Click Through Rate (CTR) is the number of times a link was clicked divided by the number of times the link was viewed expressed as a percentage.


Experiment 1


- We took over 1 billion clicks from over 2 million links from 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.


 - We found that the links which were branded with a custom domain performed significantly better than the links using the 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


In order to confirm 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 over social media. Both had 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 whether the same advertisement would more link clicks if 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 making reporting our results easier. Given this, we felt that Twitter ads would give us the most accurate data about the effect of a branded link 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 promoting the Teams feature on Twitter. 

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.





Twitter paid ads make it very easy to track the CTR of links on each post. We found that the post which contained a 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 obtaining up to a 39% higher click through rate.


This Article is About:

  • Branded link Click Through Rate.
  • Branded link CTR.
  • Branded links.
  • Vanity URL.
  • Custom short URL.
  • 39% click through rate with branded links.
  • 34%.

Further Reading:

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