Advertisers are still reluctant to allocate budget to mobile search, according to a new survey from the World Federation of Advertisers.

The survey found that 66% of WFA members did not yet allocate budget to mobile search and 44% do not devote budget to social search.

The findings come despite the number of WFA members working with a single international specialist search agency doubling to 23% in 2011, while 39% work with a search agency in at least one country.

Econsultancy’s UK Search Engine Marketing Benchmark Report 2011 returned similar findings. Just 16% of companies used mobile search in their marketing activities, although this had increased from 8% in 2010.

Based on an online survey of more than 600 client-side digital marketers and agencies, just 2% of client-side paid search budget is spent on mobile search, while supply-side respondents say the average for their clients is 5%.

WFA marketing communications director Robert Dreblow said: “Our members find there is a lack of expertise in this area, so they are unsure of the returns they are going to get for their investment. There needs to be some education around the actual benefits.”

The WFA survey also investigated how advertisers assess the performance of their paid search budget – on average four different measurement criteria are used.

The most popular KPIs are click-through (71%) and average CPC (65%) followed by cost per conversion (52%) and conversion rate (48%). 

Sales come last (19%), indicating that most respondents are using search marketing primarily at an early stage in the consumer journey despite most also having e-commerce platforms.

The survey found that the preferred method of payment for SEO projects is fixed-rate commissions – selected by 33%. 

Fixed or output-based fees are nearly as popular with 30% of respondents using this method, increasing from 11% in 2009. 

The WFA said that though this survey is not definitive, with 36 responses from global and regional marketers (representing 36 different multinational companies), it provides the best look at how the world’s biggest advertisers are changing the way they approach search. 

Respondents were responsible for more than $33bn in gross media spend in 2011.