The Amazing History of Flyers: From Paper to Digital

marketing flyers

marketing planFlyers or pamphlets as it’s commonly known dates way back. We created a brief history that you need to read!

How many times in your life have you been handed down a piece of paper that is trying to get you to buy something? If your answer is “a lot of times,” congratulations because you are part of the millions of people throughout history gifted with a flyer.

These advertising dynamos have been around for quite some time now. In ancient times, early forms of flyers were made from print woodblocks. Its evolution has led to the digital world, where an online flyer maker, like Venngage, can help users easily create dozens of ad materials from hundreds of professional and creative-looking templates, icons, and photos with just a few clicks.

The long history of flyers is also a fascinating look at the legacy of advertising. This type of ad goes hand in hand with the advent of commerce.

Let’s dive a bit into it.


Let’s roll back a bit, shall we? Let us answer the question “What is a flyer?” first.

Simply put, a flyer or flier is a piece of paper printed with visuals, words, or both, that gets handed out to people to sell or advertise something.

It can also be referred to as a pamphlet, leaflet, handout, or bill.


making flyers

A lot of new-age marketers ask themselves, “Are flyers too old school or outdated?”

In this day and age, with advertising continuously evolving in a fast-paced digital world, does one still need to know how to make a flyer?

If you are wondering if these marketing tools can still work today, let’s look a bit at the statistics made in 2018 about that very subject.

The Data and Marketing Association or DTA states that:

1. Flyers in Addressed Mail

  • 57% of people opened it on the very same day they got it
  • 5% checked it out instantly
  • 24% checked it out after a while

2. Door Drop Flyers

  • 5% of people checked it out
  • 16% check it out after some time

So yes, compared to other advertising mediums, flyers were and continue to be an effective advertising medium. Numbers don’t lie. Comparatively, these are very good.


The earliest form of the modern flyer was first seen during the Renaissance period in Italy (Though more crude forms existed centuries ago.)

The printing press has already been invented prior and improved after that. This is a big reason why printed pamphlets disseminating important news have replaced the comically looking “town crier.”

Yes, that guy with a scroll yelling “Hear ye, hear ye,” in the middle of the town square. Imagery courtesy of the movies

Flyers are cheaper, faster, and can be produced in massive quantities. It was a game-changer in terms of communicating information to a wide audience.


flyer design

Learning how to create a flyer or how to design a flyer quickly became an art form as the years progressed. These pieces of printed paper quickly became the tool of choice for advertising products and services, revolutions, propaganda, war, religious, scientific, and political ideas.

Countless movements have been successful just because of the simple piece of paper.

A great example was in the early 1900s when the women’s Suffrage movement used mass quantities of flyering from city to city to promote their cause. Flyers played a huge role in the success of that one.

It’s amazing to think how flyers have greatly influenced the world we are living in.


As commerce and information started making their way online, flyers consequently evolved to the digital space. Today, flyers aren’t relegated to being passed around on the street on a piece of paper but can be attached to emails, posted on social media, plastered on websites, etc.

The effectiveness of these digital flyers will probably shoot up as the tech keeps on improving. Notice how the online world can now specifically target ads based on our browsing and shopping activity?

Yep, those are algorithms designed by the biggest online stores, social media apps, and search engines to target consumers specifically. They are triggering more reactions and engagements to ads.

And flyers are at the very heart of it.


What are you waiting for?

If you are a small to medium business, start planning and churning out those flyers to get your message across. History is on your side when it comes to effectiveness.

If you are bummed that you don’t know how to create a flyer, then let me assure you that it’s never been easier than it is today. You can learn how to make flyers for free using a good online flyer maker to start you off.

Now is a good time as any to get on the flyer train!

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Editorial Staff

This article was written by editorial staff.