An idea about the future of ads... or no ads
Lets face it mobile is killing the existing model for advertising. Advertisers are getting a fraction of the price of ads on mobile than on the desktop. And less people are clicking on these ads. As ads become less profitable and more of a websites users come from mobile that website will start to look for more ways to profit.
Freemium: I know some people hate freemium, but it is a sound and tested business model. What if websites like the Verge said we'll let you read all the articles you want but to be able to comment, save articles and listen to podcasts you have to pay $2 a month, no ads. Now would this work, possibly. Obviously if all websites turned to this model most readers would be paying a lot of money every year to visit websites. Maybe The Verge only needs $1 every month from users, would you buy it then?
Subscriptions/ Pay walls: Again a lot of people hate pay walls, I hate not being able to read an article from the WSJ about some rumor they got from some guy in the supply chain in Asia (think about it how ridiculous does that sound). But in my mind not many websites would be able to pull this off. Only ones with a loyal following will be able to succeed under this model. But it makes you think if all trusted big name websites (Forbes, Bloomberg) turn to this model the web will be a much different place.
Ad Walls: Some sites use this method today. Forbes being the only one I can think of off the top of my head. Before you get to the website or article the entire screen is taken up by an ad. This will force users to acknowledge the ad, in theory increasing click through rates. They may even make the ad timed so you cant advance for a period of maybe 5 or 10 seconds. Youtube also does this with video ads on some videos.
Subscriptions/ Free ad based reading: This I feel will be the most popular way websites and apps try to generate money. Everyone can read, watch and do every function on the website supported by ads. But they also offer a subscription based service allowing ad free reading. Honestly I don't understand why websites don't do this now, depending on the price I would love to read/listen/watch The Verge ad free. And quite honestly how much money could they make off me with ads anyway. This is sort of like apps that have a normal version and an ad free version.
Selling things: Very few websites do this now and I don't think many more will do this in the future but it can work. Some websites sell things specifically targeted at their users. Mobile Nations sell cases and other things for phones and tablets on their site. They also have ads so I don't know how good this business model is.
Innovative Ads: Obviously I don't know what they would be (or else Id sell it to a corporation and be a millionaire) but somewhere in a room, probably on the west coast, there are smart people developing a new type of ad. It could be location based, like I'm walking down the street reading an article and the next page I go to there's an ad for Starbucks which is about 10 feet away from me.
Those are just some ideas on how the web could look like in the future. Now it wont come to this until a much larger chunk of internet traffic comes from mobile. At this moment mobile traffic is at 12% Im thinking somewhere around 40% is where we will start to see changes. This will effect more websites/companies than you think, Google and Facebook get almost 100% of their revenue through ads. A large majority of websites get their revenue from ads. They will start to face a problem and will find solutions to it. Nothing could happen and ads just get smarter and more innovative. Websites could take a hybrid approach with a freemium model. Or giving the option to view their website without ads (once again don't understand why they don't already do this). Or the internet and app ecosystem could become a closed place with pay walls up everywhere. I see a freemium or free ad based with the option for subscription on websites or apps. But anything can happen, what is definite is the bread and butter of the internet is in for some tough times ahead.