UPDATED 14:45 EDT / FEBRUARY 28 2011

Digital Publishers Get Vertical (and Practical!) Hearst Now Manages Online Bills

Managing finances is always a chore, and at times, a daunting task. So, how about something that reminds you of paying bills in a timely manner?  Hearst, a popular publishing company, has launched the beta version of its new site, Manilla that will help people manage their finances in four different categories including household bills, like phone and cable; magazine subscriptions (no-brainer); air travel rewards programs; and financial bills like mortgages and credit cards.  It sounds a lot like PageOnce when they first launched, so it’s interesting to see a publishing company dive head first into the managed services sector.

After signing up with Manilla, users can link their bill and personal accounts & can easily manage them.

“The company surveyed said people were constantly baffled by the bills, subscriptions and other programs they have to manage. People also feel overwhelmed by the piles of paper bills they face on a daily basis. I tested Manilla ahead of its introduction and found that the process of linking and managing a bill was simple. I linked my AT&T phone bill to the service and it took only a few seconds to hook up the two sites and begin managing my account from Manilla,” Jessica Insalaco, an executive vice president at Manilla.

Besides this reminder service, it will also help save lots of paper ending up in garbage dumps.For the same, the company is also planning to have “premier partnerships” with some companies.

“Right now, some companies can spend up to 75 cents on a single paper bill,” Ms. Insalaco said. “We want to work with these major companies to send us the bill, reducing the cost of the paper version, and we will act as the middleman to the consumer.”

Heart is a big customer of U.S. postal service and having it quit from physical postal service may be the department’s biggest nightmare. This magazine publisher sends around 500 million mails every year that include bills and renewal notices that cost around 73 cents per mail.

This clearly demonstrates the shift that publishing sector is taking in diversifying their online services and finding new & creative ways to expand and monetize their direct communication channels with consumers. Some examples include mobile apps created by magazines, such as Epicurious has a very useful app with shopping list integration and saved preferences. Real Simple also has a meal-planning app that helps readers apply the magazine’s pragmatic lifestyle approach. This all reflects the rising popularity of online and mobile applications for consumers, as metrics and virtualization empowers a personalized method for managed services.

An increasing inclination towards online banking is also an evidence of shift towards online applications. An emarketer report informs that the percentage of consumers who transferred funds online nearly doubled from 34% in 2005 to 67% in 2010, while three-fourths of them checked their account balances online.

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