Illustration: Sarah Grillo / Axios

Google said on Tuesday that it plans to phase out support for third-party cookies in its popular web browser, Chrome, within the next two years.

Why it matters: Chrome is the last major internet browser to discontinue cookies, which means that the end of the decades-old tracking technology is finally in sight.

  • Chrome is the most widely used desktop browser in the U.S. and the second-most widely used mobile browser in the U.S. behind Safari.

Details: Unlike its rivals Apple and Mozilla, which started blocking third-party cookies by default in their browsers last year, Google says it plans to take a more gradual approach to phasing out cookies.

  • "Some browsers have reacted to these concerns by blocking third-party cookies, but we believe this has unintended consequences that can negatively impact both users and the web ecosystem," said Justin Schuh, director of Chrome Engineering in a company blog post.
  • Instead, Chrome has introduced new technologies that it hopes will enable marketers to target users efficiently online without raising user privacy or security concerns.
  • Schuh said in the post that this phased-out approach stops businesses that are being impacted by the changes from taking "blunt approaches" to working around the new policies that could risk user security.

Be smart: The move will force the digital advertising and marketing industries to adjust their businesses to be more privacy-focused.

  • For decades, advertisers relied on cookies to track users across the web and to retarget them with ads, particularly on their desktops.
  • But over the past few years, marketers began moving away from using cookies to track user browser data and instead developed better methods of tracking people across the web. These tactics are considered more effective and secure, especially since fewer people use desktop browsers these days, and most rely more heavily on mobile.

The big picture: The advertising ecosystem has evolved dramatically over the past few years as privacy regulation has evolved and consumer expectations toward privacy have increased.

  • Google rivals Apple and Mozilla already began blocking third-party cookies last year for their respective web browsers, Safari and Firefox.
  • Verizon on Tuesday launched its own privacy-focused browser called OneSearch.
  • DuckDuckGo, a decade-old, privacy-centric search engine, has seen a spike in searches over the past few years.

Go deeper: The death of the internet cookie

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The new buyout barons

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Last month I wrote that SPACs are the new IPOs. But I may have understated it, because SPACs are also becoming the new private equity.

By the numbers: Short for "special purpose acquisition company," SPACs have raised $24 billion so far in 2020, with a loaded pipeline of upcoming offerings. U.S. buyout firms raised nearly $102 billion through the end of June — a much larger amount, but not so much larger that the two can't play on the same field.

3 hours ago - World

Macron visits Beirut promising a "new political pact" for Lebanon

Macron visits the hard-hit Gemmayzeh neighborhood. Photo: AFP via Getty Images

French President Emmanuel Macron walked through the blast-damaged streets of Beirut on Thursday, swarmed by people chanting for the fall of Lebanon's government and pleading for international aid.

Why it matters: Lebanon is at a breaking point. Its economy was collapsing and its government hardly functioning — all before a massive explosion destroyed swathes of the capital city, including its vital port.

3 hours ago - Sports

The PGA Championship is golf's first major in over a year

Photo: Gary Kellner/PGA of America via Getty Images

The 2020 PGA Championship tees off Thursday at San Francisco's TPC Harding Park, which is hosting its first-ever major.

Why it matters: It's the first major in more than a year — and the first of seven majors in the next 12 months. Though there won't be any fans in attendance, the excitement is palpable.