NEW YORK: Brand owners like American Express, Virgin Mobile and L'Oréal are making greater use of content marketing, which is seen as an increasingly important way to engage internet users.

American Express, the financial services giant, has pursued many such schemes, including "Unstaged", which allows famous directors to film concerts by major bands. A performance by Coldplay in 2011 remains the biggest event by one artist on YouTube.

Walter Frye, director of entertainment marketing and sponsorships at American Express, told Forbes that initiatives involving sport and other entertainment genres were in development.

“These partnerships allow us to create memorable experiences for our Cardmembers; through our content use, we are able to scale out that experience to prospective and current customers, ultimately exposing more people to our brand and driving consideration," he said.

For its part, Virgin Mobile, the telecoms group, has launched a social "newsroom" to distribute music, apps and "memes" on sites like Facebook, Buzzfeed and Instagram. It now attracts 1m users a month.

Some 50,000 "super sharers" also help spread material on sites like Facebook and Twitter.

Ron Faris, Virgin Mobile's head of brand marketing, said expanding its "social reach" was not the only goal.

"It's also about deepening the level of engagement we have with our fans in the social communities they hang out in," he said. "The next step is to evolve our social platform to allow fans to reward one another with special moments."

Elsewhere, L'Oréal has allied with Rolling Stone magazine to promote new bands and its Garnier Fructis range. Consumers have been asked to vote in numerous programmes, driving engagement and video views online.

"My vision has been to take this strategic platform ... to the next level by comprehensively integrating all initiatives and touchpoints and by expanding our footprint on content creation appealing to Millennials in a much stronger and relevant way," said Debora Koyama, AVP, marketing at L'Oréal USA.

Renaissance Hotels, a unit of Marriott International, is seeking to serve business travellers through its "Navigators" platform, offering guides to cities where its hotels are, and RLife LIVE, giving insights into cultural events.

The chain's website relaunched in May with this new material and offers links to social channels so its guests can interact with each other. Its Facebook community has 270k "likes" thus far.

"As a global brand with limited awareness and limited marketing budget, we have to find ways to be relevant and drive consideration," said Dan Vinh, VP, global marketing, for Renaissance Hotels . "Content is critical for us because it's the currency that drives our relevance and therefore consumer consideration for our brand."

Data sourced from Forbes; additional content by Warc staff