A del.icio.us bookmark brought back a two-year-old PBS article about Taguchi method and how it applies to ad creation.
"Taguchi method is a technique for designing experiments that converge on an ideal product solution. Taguchi Methods can take a project with thousands, even millions of combinations of variables, and quickly reduce it to a couple dozen simple experiments that can be run simultaneously and will determine the cheapest way to achieve a goal. Instead of considering one variable at a time, Taguchi is able to test many variables at once, which is why the number of tests can be so small. It's a bloody miracle. Taguchi not only shows the right way to do something, it also tells you what the cost in dollars will be of doing it the wrong way.
Like any process, advertising can be optimized if the control variables can be properly defined. Here's the Kowalick company the article mentions that does this sort of optimization. Apparently, Forbes wrote about the method and the company as recently as last May.