For a very long time we had ads in newspapers and commercial radio & TV. More and more of that content have been shifted to Internet as a distribution channel for the media companies and we have been looking at web-pages on your desktop or laptop for many years.
The number of ads and tracking of page views increases all the time, but the question is if we are coming to a breaking point with more movable devices.
Mobile devices have less screen space compared to desktop browsers so the number of ads that could be presented to the viewer are more limited compared to the desktop. The user experience degrade much faster on a mobile device if the proportion of ads compared to content became to large. The mobile platform is more comparable with newspapers with a fixed number of pages or the number of minutes during an hour.
Second, the bandwidth for a mobile device is often more constrained compared to a computer, which makes the situation for ad-sponsored content even worse. Finally with iOS 9, Safari will include a content blocker that give the user a possibility to reduce the number of ads and thus improve user experience on the behalf of the publisher.
Now, enter the world of wearables. Apple watch doesn't have a web-browser so you can't reach the audience that way if you are a content provider. You have to have an native application on the watch to provide your content or rely on a very large social network, i.e. Facebook, Twitter or similar. This app-centric approach will benefit a few very large media conglomerates. Medium-size publications will have a very hard time to reach their audience on a wearable device.
Another benefit with the watch and other wearables is the possibility to filter information to only those people you prioritize to follow or topics that your are very interested in.
This can be benefit for really small specialized publications with a enthusiastic audience willing to pay instead of viewing ads. For others, your attention is getting more precious.
But what does all this mean for content publishers?
The business model for media companies will impacted in the way the could earn money and that is crucial for the survival as a business.
One way for smaller publications could be a subscription model or use micro-payments for content instead of ads. The really large ones could earn money on ads due to their scale and public broadcasting could still have a future in those countries where they exist today. The smaller publications, with their regional readership, will have a hard time in the changing media landscape.
My guess is therefore that the number of ads in they form we see them on the web will be less relevant in they future when we use more mobile and wearable devices to consume content.