"What they often say about the best athletes is that they play the game a little bit slower than anybody else does -- so the game is slightly slower and they see it at a pace which allows them to go faster. I think that couldn't be more true here," he said at the Interactive Advertising Bureau's Annual Leadership Meeting in Palm Desert, Calif.
The analogy was meant to convey Mr. Ashe's appreciation for those publishers who take it slow but steady when trying to sell to Walmart.
"Be constructive and be patient," Mr. Ashe advised. "The relationships that we have that aren't going to work so well are the ones that are very transactional and focused on today's revenue. Those which have impact for the duration are going to be the ones which are rooted in a common ability to get things done."
While in theory many companies may want to act as a resource to buyers, in practice the pressure to "make the number" can toss that approach out the window. Mr. Ashe said marketers and salespeople looking for lasting relationships would be better served if they accepted a deal might take a little longer, but used to time to better align interests of both parties so the relationship becomes more integrated.
Mr. Ashe, once a pubisher at CNET and CBS Interactive, gave the advice when asked by IAB president and CEO Randall Rothenberg what the Walmart version of Neil Ashe would say to his former self.
Mr. Rothenberg then turned the focus of the conversation to ad-tech and Mr. Ashe provided some straightforward advice: dumb it down.
"Obviously, the need to survive and the need to thrive drives a desire and a need to differentiate. The reality is, often times, it's just not that complicated," he said. "And so, to the extent that you can provide a simpler solution for marketers and definitely for consumers and for those of us who are trying to build businesses with your help, the better off we're all going to be."
Welcome words for anyone who has ever received an indiscernible ad-tech pitch.