LONDON: Ryanair, the low-cost airline, focuses its marketing efforts on SEO and content marketing in order to drive traffic to its website rather than higher cost activities that are open to fraud and which deliver questionable metrics, its CMO has said.

"We spend nothing on Google and I am so proud of that fact," Kenny Jacobs, CMO at Ryanair, told Marketing Week.

"We're the world's most searched for airline website and we spend nothing on Google because everyone knows what we stand for. It's organic traffic," he said.

The notoriously frugal airline – CEO Michael O'Leary once mused about charging passengers to use the toilet – keeps a tight rein on its marketing spend and on its digital activities in order to avoid pouring money into what Jacobs described as "the Google machine" in search of quick results.

He also believes that marketers need a greater amount of technical knowledge than ever before, to the extent that "they should be able to look at a website and know how that website is working: what's the code behind it.

"Immerse yourself in as much as you can and retain your common sense. And marketers should treat marketing like it's their own money and be a tight bastard with it."

With that view, Ryanair sets out to maximise the effectiveness of its earned and owned media, while reducing investment in paid media – and O'Leary's comments have frequently helped in boosting its earned media presence.

"We're good on social," Jacobs noted. "we say controversial things, we talk to the press and we're very accessible and outspoken."

A couple of years ago, the airline felt it necessary to adapt its early no-frills approach, when O'Leary admitted it should probably stop doing things "that unnecessarily piss people off".

But it has no intention of changing altogether, as price remains its point of differentiation in consumer market where people are attracted to cheap brands, from Primark to Lidl to Ryanair.

"We're still going to have the cheapest fares, but we're nice enough," said Jacobs. "And the word is enough, which I think is really important because short-haul flying is a functional thing, it's not an emotional thing."

Data sourced from Marketing Week; additional content by WARC staff