Loomia, a San Francisco start-up that launched in June last year, has released a “recommendations” feature for Web sites to help users find podcasts relevant to their tastes.

Loomia’s recommendation “engine” suggests podcasts you might like based on a profile Loomia keeps about the choices you’ve made in the past. It will recommend audio files to you that other people with similar tastes have already selected — kind of like how Netflix recommends movies to you.

Loomia is offering this service to third-party Web sites, and launches it today on a podcasting Web site called The Conversations Network, which has close to 1,000 audio files in its archives — the thinking is that you will need help sorting through it…

all. It will offer the service to other Web sites, too; and Loomia will track preferences for a single user across all of these Web sites.

In what appears to be a first, Loomia wants to make money from sponsored podcasts that appear at the top of the results. Like at Google, those sponsored podcasts will be slightly highlighted so you can tell it is sponsored (click on the image below to see an example).

We think this is a bit of a longshot for a business model short-term. But Loomia chief executive David Marks is betting the podcast phenom will only grow. He is focused on building out the recommendations service first, and will turn to making real money later. But he says folks like Oracle and Whirlpool are likely to pay to advertise their podcasts, and that some are ready to pay pretty high rates — or about $75 per 1,000 times the ad is viewed.

We found out about this company’s launch from Jeff Clavier, an angel investor and consultant who has been at the center of a growing number of Web 2.0 type companies. He is first guy to invest in Loomia so far, and has worked with companies like Buzznet, Feedster, Glenbrook, UltraDNS, Userplane — and yes, Truveo, which we mentioned yesterday sold for $50 million for just two years’ work. Jeff has a nice little office ensconced in the heart of Palo Alto, near University, and we visited him for the first time yesterday.


And here is the press release.