Aug 13, 2013
AOL Bill Manager launched today, powered by Manilla. This is the first time that Manilla has done a deep integration to allow consumers to interact with its services at a site other than Manilla.com. It is an important milestone for Manillaâ€”and the broader digital mailbox services categoryâ€”because it reinforces the opportunity to reach large concentrations of potential users via integrations with existing consumer destinations. AOL Bill Manager has a prominent position on the Finance page and Manilla’s branding remains strong, as shown below.
Via the press release, Manilla CEO Jim Schinella had this to say:
â€œ…[O]ur partnership with AOL represents the next step in our continued commitment to reducing paper mail and creating the best solution for our users. AOL Bill Manager is the result of several months of development on both sides to customize the Manilla experience for millions of AOLâ€™s loyal users that visit AOL Mail and the AOL.com service daily, and weâ€™re confident it will contribute to our already rapid user growth. This innovative partnership builds on our promise of being able to manage everything in one place by allowing access to all household bills and accounts alongside a userâ€™s AOL Mail and content.â€
Our research has shown that consumers would most trust a major bank, financial institution, or companies they already do business with to provide consolidation services. Zumbox recently made a move toward syndication of its content to the financial community through eMoney Advisor, as noted in my recent blog post. For Manilla, this partnership focuses on an email provider. While unique views to AOL Mail are dwarfed by those at Gmail, Outlook, and Yahoo! Mail, AOL’s 2012 Annual Report cited 2.8 million paying subscribers and 21 million unique views to AOL Mail in December of 2012. From a base of around 500,000 activated users at Manilla today, the company could substantially increase its audience through this channel partnership and lay the foundation for future partnerships with email providers or other consumer destinations.
Building on its user base will also result in more interest in partnerships from the bill and statement providersâ€”Manilla’s revenue source (since consumer access is free). With higher volumes of consumers interacting with their brands via the Manilla platform, providers are more likely to partner. For this reason, Manilla is trying to make it easy for consumers to link many accounts. One new feature prompts users to take advantage of a free scan of your email accounts to suggest providers to sync. The suggestion was prominently placed on the welcome screen when I joined Manilla through AOL Bill Manager.
I tested it out with all three email services (AOL Mail, Gmail, and Yahoo! Mail) and it came up with 13 accounts for me to add. These suggestions were hit and miss, but there were certainly accounts that I wanted to include that I would not have searched for on my own.
Overall, I see this announcement as a move in the right direction for Manilla. While the partnership may not be exclusive, my sense is that AOL will be less interested in a similar partnership with other digital mailbox service providers. As a result, we may see a flurry of activity from digital mailbox service providers trying to become the first “powered by” entity for other consumer destinationsâ€”email providers, banks, financial institutions, e-commerce sites, digital file cabinets, social media servicesâ€”in order to fortify their respective market positions. These developments are all good for the space and will lead to increased consumer awareness, new bill and statement provider partnerships, as well as more customer communications accessed through the consolidation channel.
Associate Director, Document Outsourcing
Since completion of our landmark study, The Emergence of Digital Mailbox Services, InfoTrends continues to track, present on, and consult for the digital mailbox services market in addition to our broader tracking of the customer communications delivery and payment markets via studies like our recently-published study entitled The Future of Multi-channel Transactional Communications.
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