I've been making lower thirds and other graphics via data merge in PS -- it's a huge timesaver but I've never had time to really delve into AE. I don't even think I have it on any of our workstations yet. Does AE have a data merge feature? Are there scripts/macros available that can facilitate this?
What I do is set up a PS template, then punch in the data in a formatted Excel spreadsheet. Export to CSV, run datamerge in PS and boom. All my graphics are done. I really wish Premiere had this but their crappy titler would probably go berserk... AE is where we want to get more into, and this would be a handy way to do it.
Yes, it definitely can. You can convert your layers into dynamic elements. I would be remiss not to mention Templater from Dataclay. Check out our site when you have some time to learn about all the layer types that are supported.