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Wonder Women of New York 2022: Jo Kinsella

Jo Kinsella
Jo Kinsella (Image credit: TV Squared by Innovid)

TVSquared president Jo Kinsella has had a Wonder Women-level business career, culminating in helping to engineer the recent sale of the company to Innovid, another firm in the TV-measurement arena, for $160 million. 

Kinsella, who will lead Innovid’s measurement business after the sale closes, has been an outspoken leader in helping advertisers accurately gauge who has seen their ads and what they do after seeing them. 

Calum Smeaton, the founder and CEO of TVSquared by Innovid, who has worked with Kinsella at three companies, said: “Jo has not only been a tremendous leader for TVSquared, but also for the advertising industry as a whole. She has made it her mission to bring much-needed transparency, accountability and proof of performance to the forefront and, as a result, she’s been instrumental in creating the TV measurement and attribution space we know today.”

Zvika Netter, the CEO and cofounder of Innovid, who worked closely with Kinsella on the acquisition, said Kinsella “has been core to TVSquared’s success in linear and digital TV measurement. We look forward to working with her to shape the future of TV advertising, establishing a new currency-grade standard that delivers transparency and accountability.”

While her appearances at numerous ad-industry conferences demonstrate her command of the subject matter and skill in communicating, hearing her own backstory is even more entertaining.

“Oh God, I still think I’m 23, so the fact that I’m 47 is just downright annoying,” Kinsella said. “It means that my book is much longer than I believe it to be. I’m like, how can I already be 47?”

Born in a town called Boston in Lincolnshire, England, Kinsella remembers telling her mom at an early age that she wanted to do people’s hair and nails for a living, “and she was like, don’t be ridiculous. If you think I’ve burnt my bra for you and you’re gonna go and do that, forget it, darling.”

From Traveling to Tech

After graduating university in Leeds, she lived in France and Barcelona before selling everything to go backpacking in Asia and Australia. “I went traveling, had a great time and then came back and I was like, ‘How can I make as much money in the shortest possible time frame?’ And it was to become a Microsoft certified systems engineer. I mean, why would you not?”

She worked at a company called Radiance in London, which was acquired by British Telecom, and then at an Internet bank called Egg, establishing herself in male-dominated environments. “I continued to break ceilings, I guess.” 

I went traveling, had a great time and then came back and I was like, ‘How can I make as much money in the shortest possible time frame?’ And it was to become a Microsoft certified systems engineer. I mean, why would you not?”

— Jo Kinsella

The year she turned 40, she got married and moved to America. She had her beloved daughter, Molly, but the marriage broke up (she is good friends with her ex-husband). She completed an Ironman Triathlon in Lake Placid, New York. After she then needed surgeries to repair a heart condition, she took up yoga and got certified as an instructor. “I did a ton of things to get myself as healthy as I could possibly be.”

TVSquared by Innovid became like her second child. The 10-year-old company’s software measures ad impressions across platforms (including linear and streamed TV) and what actions are taken after the ads are viewed. “The software works in 75 countries, so we’ve done really well,” Kinsella said.

Breakthroughs, she said, came from deals with brands such as Expedia and then with distributors such as Comcast and Charter Communications, and with support from key industry figures including Sean Cunningham, president and CEO of the Video Advertising Bureau, and Kelly Abcarian, executive VP of measurement and impact at NBCUniversal’s Advertising and Partnerships division. 

Won’t Settle for Second Best

Cunningham said: “She is driven, determined, tireless, insightful, incredibly articulate and has a very quick mind, but as you get to know Jo well, you also see this DNA-level fire she has that blasts through barriers like status quo, excuses, compromise, inertia, patriarchy, hierarchy, deference and any notion of settling for second-best in anything.”

Abcarian said: “Jo embodies everything a Wonder Woman should be — strong, incredibly smart, humble, innovative and kind. Every day she chooses to be brave, to lead, and to pursue battle with her unapologetic and passionate push for the industry to change, and it is this passion and purpose that enables her to bring out the best in herself and others.” ■ 

Kent has been a journalist, writer and editor at Multichannel News since 1994 and with Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He is a good point of contact for anything editorial at the publications and for Nexttv.com. Before joining Multichannel News he had been a newspaper reporter with publications including The Washington Times, The Poughkeepsie (N.Y.) Journal and North County News.