Bill Wilson Faces the Music at AOL Media

AOLBillWilson.jpgThe latest installment of mediabistro.com‘s So What Do You Do series features AOL Media president Bill Wilson, who came from a music background, working with Arista Records and BMG Entertainment, before becoming head of music at AOL and then ascending to his current title.

Wilson oversees MediaGlow, AOL’s editorial arm, which draws 75 million unique visitors per month to sites including Engadget, Fanhouse and Asylum.

Here are some of the highlights from Wilson’s conversation with Noah Davis. For the full interview, click here.

Our whole goal with MediaGlow is to write about topics that people are passionate about or have great interest in. We bring in staff and free-lancers who are the most experienced, who love the topics they’re writing about and want to connect with the community around that. So everything we’re doing is building out communities of like-minded individuals. We’re really excited. We have 75, 80 sites now, but we continue to look at opportunities to reach more and more people around more and more topics.

When you think back to when AOL went free in 2006, there were a lot of strategic discussions. We saw consumer behavior really starting to shift where instead of coming through a few sites and main portals—AOL being one of them—we saw consumers going to many more Websites with specific areas of interest. Search was a big part of that, the beginning of social media was a big part of that, but it was, I’d call it, the infancy, and we in essence made a bet that it was going to continue. It’s paid off for us: At this point, we’re over 75 million people domestically that we reach, according to comScore, and over 275 million globally, so it’s exciting.

I spend quite a bit of time (on AOL’s sites). How I start my day actually is reading all of the consumer email. We get literally over 1,000 pieces of email per day directly from consumers, and that comes in through each Web site. I’m able to look at each Web site, what consumers are telling us they like, what they don’t like and what they want. I see what our competitive set is doing with that content, and then I go to our site and say: “How are we delivering and setting trends, versus also reacting to trends?” The strategy quite honestly is—we’re always evaluating it, but it’s been pretty set for a while, and we’re just figuring out how to scale and grow, but that’s the bulk of my time, actually.